A new member has some questions

Fig000

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Hi,

My first post. I can see that this type of forum can be a slippery slope and I admire the spirit of the people who created it.

I may be adding another wrinkle to this discussion beyond the "what religion do you belong to" and I hope this will perhaps generate some discussion about issues that surround religion and are not directly part of it.

To clarify, I am a Jew who has moved from New York to what can be called the Bible belt. I'd rather not be specific about where it is. I will try to stay within the rules of the forums by saying it is not so much what I find here that sometimes makes me uneasy but things I don't find.

I just read the "Jesus, yes" post which I think was interesting and brought up some interesting questions none of which I found argumentative. Which brings me to my point. In New York it is hard to get into a really heated religious debate. Not because people are scared of each other, but because you become too close to people of other religions to not be either tolerant at one end of the spectrum or downright protective of your friends at the other end. My best friend as a teeneager was a protestant of some sort (I can't remember what the denomination was) and we found more similarities in each other than anyone else we encountered. This wasn't a decision or a rebellion; it simply was the case.

I won't try to explain New York which would be post and a half in itself. But I will ask a couple of questions about things that have become issues with some people where I am now. Even here I have found people who share my values more than most Jews and that would include Baptists who, from a New York standpoint, I might have considered immune to interfaith conversations. Yes, New Yorkers can be intolerant bigots too.

I am somewhat puzzled about a couple of issues which never came up in New York but I seem to be forced to deal with at times now:

1. Since I've gotten to my new destination, I've heard descriptions of a war between "the evil one" and the God we all share that plays out in all situations and we are all consistently involved regardless of the "banality" of the issue. I have been told, to my surprise, that the good works that I am currently doing in my current job will cause "interference" from evil forces.
I have always thought of the evil one to be powerless before God unless we are unwise enough and have strayed enough to let him in. Where I am now, physical phenomenon such as power outages and storms are blamed on the evil one., I had always thought that the evil one's power was limited to creating doubt and fooling you into following the wrong path. The rest was God's province.

2. This echoes a question from the "Jesus, Yes" post which asks about Bush's prediliction towards war and how we would view it. I am not an expert on the new testament but I do wonder about the above mentioned "war" that I hear discussed. I have heard the term spirtual "warfare" used where i am now. Yet Jesus was the prince of peace. It is easy to get angry and feel justified in having a warrior's mentality; that has been our lot through the centuries. Yet Christ asked us to do God's will and turn away from war and conflict.My concern is that "spiritual warefare" doesn't seem to be a metaphor for some people. It seems that they see themselves on a battlefield, at times against their fellow man, rather than emissaries of God's mercy.

I hope I haven't angered anyone. It's hard to read the rules of conduct and be sure you aren't "stirring the pot". However I find it hard to reconcile the "love they neighbor" concept that is repeated throughout the old testament and new with the battlefield mentality I hear from some people. I know that there are also Jews who also take the hawk mentality to heart; that is clear and I won't argue that; it bothers me just as much as anything else. I just find it hard to deal with people on that level after coming from a place like New York where the physical world is harsh but the relgious world view is often one of acceptance and understanding.

Thanks for listening. I hope I haven't gotten myself kicked off the forum already :). I just hope to have some things I don't understand explained to me.

Fig000
 

wil

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Namaste and Welcome fig!

No you haven't as far as I can see done or said anything that comes close to warranting the boot from here!

And as a NY Jew in the Bible belt I can imagine you are in a little of a culture shock. That being said, you should find solace in the fact that you already found some like minded folks and I dare say you'll find more.

Yes, some of us Christians do have a tendency to blame the devil...on everything and anything we can, and use the little critter to strike fear into the hearts of many....its just different strokes for different folks.

As a Unitic, I had to give up blame and realize there was no such little critter I could point at willy nilly....but again, various folks have various opinions on that, I find it almost funny though as you jews wrote all the books in that there book of ours yet you don't have such an affinity to constantly worry about the devil gettin in ya...

As to loving your neighbor, Jesus and war....you are spot on, but you'll find we have a tendency to use those 66 books to our liking, we'll find every passage to prove what we are doing is justified by the Lord, and ignore those damned loving passages....tis a store we call Dichotomy And Hypocrisy Are US. Welcome to DAHAUS of the Lord, Hallelujah....

Golly day, I am obtuse and sarcastic this Sunday morn, I better shower and get ready for church.
 

Lunitik

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I would recommend you don't pursue or give particular notice to such fanatics, Judaism has something beautiful in Kabbalism and Hasidism but there is a strange phenomena in America called Evangelist Christianity. It is completely materialistic and literal and has no depth at all, it is the natural circumstance of killing things like Catholic Mysticism and Gnosticism and any other remnant of mysticism which speaks to the core of Christianity.

I think that your conclusions on the matter are quite warranted and utterly sound... I would say that these types of Christian sects are the true anti-Christ because they give the man a horrible name. Such violent people can never understand the Book sufficiently because they are full of hate not love... it is truly disgusting. It puzzles me how something so beautiful has been warped so much, although I am not Christian mostly because it either necessitates initiation rites or is utterly empty depending on branch.

I hope you can see that what you have said is quite tame compared to what others say on these forums, it is an open dialog where views must be free. It cannot be that someone feels unable to express their views for the very definition of faith means "a belief not based on facts", since it is not factually oriented it ought to be open to debate from all angles to find the facts.
 

Abdullah

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Hi Fig!, welcome! :)

Not sure if you'd like to hear the islamic views on them, but i'll give it a shot anyway! ;)

Your view that the 'evil one' is just there to whisper deceptions in man and it is upto man to follow him or not is in accordance with islam and storms and stuff happen from God as a result of mans evil deeds

Regarding #2; the Christians indeed do contradict themselves when they on the one hand say jesus taught turn the other cheek and love thy enemy, and on the other they support wars of Bush and other warmongers

However God has revealed in the last revelation; the Holy Quran that there is nothing wrong with defensive wars, i.e., when enemy attacks, the righteous way is to defend yourselves

Moses [pbuh] had this in his religion too, and given that there is ample evidence of the distortion of the Bible...how can one be sure that Jesus [pbuh] did not condone defensive wars iether?, for there is indication? in the Quran that Jesus [pbuh] could well have taught the same; ALlah [swt] says in the Holy Quran:

009.111: Lo! Allah hath bought from the believers their lives and their wealth because the Garden will be theirs: they shall fight in the way of Allah and shall slay and be slain. It is a promise which is binding on Him in the Torah and the Gospel and the Qur'an. Who fulfilleth His covenant better than Allah? Rejoice then in your bargain that ye have made, for that is the supreme triumph.



the word 'gospel' in that verse refers to the heavenly book revealed to Jesus [pbuh]


does that mean jesus [pbuh] would give Bush a pat on the back if he should retun now?; ofcourse not for we all know that far from being defensive, Bush's war is based on the 'natural selection' philosophy where it is thought that the natural way is for the strong to wipe out the weak and capture their resources, so you can bet your bottom dollar that Jesus [pbuh] is going to declare a jihad on Bush! :D
 

SoulFood

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To clarify, I am a Jew who has moved from New York to what can be called the Bible belt.
LOL would that not now be considered the 'Torah belt"?

There is much confusion everywhere and unfortunately that would include the religious aspect as well.

We each have our own personal spiritual war to deal with; (IIRC the Muslims refer to this as jihad) how you deal with your own inner struggles is your choice.

The wars of today (ie Bush as an example) are strickly politically and financially motivated and have absolutely nothing to do with "being Christian".


Who was the originator of war? (Rev. 12:7)
 

Dream

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[QUOTE="Fig000]
Thanks for listening. I hope I haven't gotten myself kicked off the forum already :). I just hope to have some things I don't understand explained to me.
[/QUOTE]
Thanks for sharing some of your background, and I think New York must be a terrific experience if you can interact with so many types there. Here in the Bible belt we are experiencing population growth, a large influx from New York and other population centers as well as immigration from Mexico and South America! There is a cultural revolution here. Cities that have a job market and universities have grown rapidly, while manufacturing cities have shriveled. Only 100 years ago we would have assumed you coming from New York were a 'Carpet bagger', but now we're glad for company.


1. Since I've gotten to my new destination, I've heard descriptions of a war between "the evil one" and the God we all share that plays out in all situations and we are all consistently involved regardless of the "banality" of the issue. I have been told, to my surprise, that the good works that I am currently doing in my current job will cause "interference" from evil forces.
I have always thought of the evil one to be powerless before God unless we are unwise enough and have strayed enough to let him in. Where I am now, physical phenomenon such as power outages and storms are blamed on the evil one., I had always thought that the evil one's power was limited to creating doubt and fooling you into following the wrong path. The rest was God's province.
This is hard to explain briefly. The USA is physically broad and diverse, and for a long time people were physically isolated resulting in cultural isolation and differentiation. Now that we are all much closer together because of TV, transportation and internet, (also the world wars and universal sufferage) those groups formed during isolation struggle to maintain separation. They feel themselves melting like snowballs and want to stay frozen. One of the ideas that maintains their separation is that the evil is in a struggle with good both spiritually and sometimes through the miraculous. It gets expressed different ways but the result is to label all outside influences as untouchable in some way.

2. This echoes a question from the "Jesus, Yes" post which asks about Bush's prediliction towards war and how we would view it. I am not an expert on the new testament but I do wonder about the above mentioned "war" that I hear discussed. I have heard the term spirtual "warfare" used where i am now. Yet Jesus was the prince of peace. It is easy to get angry and feel justified in having a warrior's mentality; that has been our lot through the centuries. Yet Christ asked us to do God's will and turn away from war and conflict.My concern is that "spiritual warefare" doesn't seem to be a metaphor for some people. It seems that they see themselves on a battlefield, at times against their fellow man, rather than emissaries of God's mercy.
Yes. When the word war appears in the NT it is talking about peaceful opposition to evil such as doing good works, withstanding corruption, doing good to those who've mistreated you and also other good ways to oppose evil. The NT is not written to laymen, and that is part of why its not been understood. It has less to do with anger, because Bible belters generally deal well with anger and are also forgiving. We forgave the Axis powers of WWII for example; but we also saw WWII as a very physical struggle of the power of good vs. evil. Many, many have thought the evil one was trying to manipulate the countries into trying to destroy not just Jews but the Bible and Christianity. If you recall, the arguments of the Axis were that weakness was evil, freedom was evil. Following that the facists tried to wipe out Christianity in the USSR and other places. All of this is seen as evidence that the evil one is actively fighting both spiritually and physically. If he did it once, he'll surely try again.
 

IowaGuy

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The NT is not written to laymen, and that is part of why its not been understood.

Hi Dream, who do you think the NT was written to? How was it written BY laymen (Matthew = taxman, Luke = fisherman, John = physician; of course who actually did the final editing is debatable) but not TO laymen? :confused:

Why cannot a "layperson" understand what Jesus said? Do you think Jesus was not talking to laymen when he is quoted in the NT?
 

Snoopy

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Hi figgy,

You would really have to work hard to get banned from here. A profanity filled personal attack might do the trick, otherwise have a brew and make yourself comfy. :)
 

Dream

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Iowaguy said:
Hi Dream, who do you think the NT was written to? How was it written BY laymen (Matthew = taxman, Luke = fisherman, John = physician; of course who actually did the final editing is debatable) but not TO laymen? :confused:
Its full of references and allusions to all kinds of Jewish scriptures, filled with exotic Jewish historical particulars, so its written to Jews. It mentions lots of Jewish ideas with the assumption that you already understand them and builds upon them. If you don't have a familiarity with those things, then reading the NT is like hearing half of a phone conversation. Its like trying to decode Hieroglyphics using the Rosetta Stone as a dictionary. Sure its possible to to do that over a long period of time and with raw genius but why not take an Egyptology class instead?
 

IowaGuy

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The NT is not written to laymen, and that is part of why its not been understood.......Its full of references and allusions to all kinds of Jewish scriptures, filled with exotic Jewish historical particulars, so its written to Jews.

Hi Dream, a couple follow-up questions if you would be willing to elaborate on your views of the NT and bible (OT & NT) as a whole.

1.) Do you believe the bible is:
a.) the literal word of god
b.) inspired by god
c.) written by humans with no divine intervention

2.) Do you think the bible was purposely "written to Jews" (i.e. this was god's intention) or do you think it came out that way due to the bias and customs/traditions of its authors?

3.) Do you think the OT is sufficient background material to understand the NT?
 

Dream

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1.) Do you believe the bible is:
a.) the literal word of god
b.) inspired by god
c.) written by humans with no divine intervention
It could be 2 or 3. I'm not so concerned if it was written by humans with no divine intervention or if it was written with divine intervention, but I do not think 'Literal word of God' would be consistent with the Bible. The Bible is amazing but it considers human language to be imperfect, so it doesn't make sense for written words to be the perfect literal word of God. They can approximate at best.
2.) Do you think the bible was purposely "written to Jews" (i.e. this was god's intention) or do you think it came out that way due to the bias and customs/traditions of its authors?
Some of the first Christians seem to love their scriptures, and I mean a lot. They loved scripture and they loved each other and also whoever was going to be alive after them. Either they wrote the gospels to each other or they passed along information that was written down later. It was understood that their reader would be a lover of scripture, not a casual intercepter.

3.) Do you think the OT is sufficient background material to understand the NT?
I'm not sure, but I need assistance with the OT and NT from time to time. The Tanach which we're calling the OT is a holy, remarkable book.
 

Nick the Pilot

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"1.) Do you believe the bible is:
a.) the literal word of god
b.) inspired by god
c.) written by humans with no divine intervention"


You need another choice:

d) parts were intentionally changed by later writers, bringing in unauthorized changes which do not reflect the original meaning
 

wil

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Hi Dream, who do you think the NT was written to? How was it written BY laymen (Matthew = taxman, Luke = fisherman, John = physician; of course who actually did the final editing is debatable) but not TO laymen? :confused:

Why cannot a "layperson" understand what Jesus said? Do you think Jesus was not talking to laymen when he is quoted in the NT?
According to the bible, Jesus spoke to many folks, sometimes it was the pharisees, sometimes the masses, sometimes his disciples/inner circle/initiates. And sometimes he and his disciples left the masses to talk by themselves.

But most of the NT is supposedly written by Paul, although some of them have been discredited. And as to the Gospels, it is pretty much John that they believe was written by John, but definitely not all of it.

Hi Dream, a couple follow-up questions if you would be willing to elaborate on your views of the NT and bible (OT & NT) as a whole.

1.) Do you believe the bible is:
a.) the literal word of god no
b.) inspired by god everything is in a way.
c.) written by humans with no divine intervention parts

and then additions and subtractions by various entitities intentional and accidental...

And then as the OT goes we've got various author YJPD and the whole debate that that ensues.

2.) Do you think the bible was purposely "written to Jews" (i.e. this was god's intention) or do you think it came out that way due to the bias and customs/traditions of its authors?

By jews for jews....


3.) Do you think the OT is sufficient background material to understand the NT?
Reading it in Hebrew maybe, but there are a lot of other books.
 

IowaGuy

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I'm not so concerned if it was written by humans with no divine intervention or if it was written with divine intervention, but I do not think 'Literal word of God' would be consistent with the Bible.

Hi Dream, thanks for sharing your views. I'm trying to learn more about how different people view the "holy book" that so many in this country base their faith/beliefs on. I agree it's not the literal word of God, though many in the Southern Baptist church where I grew up disagree.

I think there is a HUGE difference between whether the bible "was written by humans with no divine intervention or if it was written with divine intervention." You seem to somewhat dismiss this point, but I think it is a game-changer for how one sees their faith/beliefs in relation to the bible.

If it was written WITHOUT divine intervention (which is what I believe, along with Nick's point of later writers editing/adding some parts), then it is just an historical book of teachings and old laws which we can pick and choose from in ways that make our lives better (which is what I try to do). However, parts like heaven/hell/Revelations can be ignored at will or considered parables.

If instead it was written WITH divine intervention, then shouldn't we believe the entire bible? Including, I would argue, the embarrasing parts many educated Christians would rather were left out like Deutoronomy 22, parts that suggest a 6,000 year-old earth, parts that suggest no evolution has taken place, the earth is flat, women shouldn't speak in church, don't spill your semen on the ground, etc, etc.

What is really scary to me is that so many people in the "bible belt" consider the bible to either be the literal word of God or "inspired" by God. Many of these people believe in the Book of Revelations (and think they understand part/all of it) which I fear could one day become some sort of self-fulfilling prophecy. Especially since religion seems to be creeping more & more into U.S. politics...
 

bob x

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(Matthew = taxman, Luke = fisherman, John = physician; of course who actually did the final editing is debatable)
My nerdness compels me to point out that Luke was the physician, John the fisherman (along with his brother James, and Peter and his brother Andrew). As to who wrote what (IMO, of course): Mark is almost entirely (except a few verses at the end) by Mark, a rather well-to-do merchant (he is from Cyrene and has a cousin Barnabas from Cyprus, Cyprus-and-Cyrene having been a single province under Ptolemaic Egypt because their ports had been trading with each other a long time; Barnabas is said in Acts to contribute a lot of money, and Mark's family has a house in Jerusalem; "Mark" is a Latin name, unusual for a Jew outside Italy, indicating some probable Roman sponsors). The part of Matthew that actually goes back to Matthew is the "Quotations" material (or "Q"), sayings by Jesus inserted into a variant text of Mark. What goes back to Luke is the second half of Acts (the "we narrative" so-called because it starts using "we" whenever Luke is present and "they" when he isn't) and perhaps the "wonders and women" ("W" source) in the third gospel (mostly a re-working of Matthew, but with additional material; W is particularly concerned with faith-healings, a natural concern of Luke the physician, but also has some stories about women, which has suggested to some a female author instead). The part of John that is very old is the Passion Narrative; the sayings from Jesus from that book match nothing in other sources and seem to be very late.
 

Nick the Pilot

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IG,

I want to add one more point. I believe the original story WAS taken from "divine inspiration." But it has undergone many 'unauthorized revisions" down many, many centuries, and that the original story is a LOT older than what people believe, that the version given to the Jews was not the original version. Each civilization has done its own rewriting, so when the Jews first got it, it had already passed through several civilizations and been altered several times. (This also gets into how the Jews really are the "chosen" people, but that is a different topic for another thread.)

In Genesis, God walks past Adam (who is hiding from God) and doesn't see Adam. (How could an omnipotent God not sense Adam was right there?) God also puts a curse on all women just because they are women. Most people reject these parts as unathorized re-writes. But I believe the original story had no re-writes and was authentic.

The trick is, which parts are not re-writes (and are "divine") and which ones are.
 

bananabrain

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In New York it is hard to get into a really heated religious debate. Not because people are scared of each other, but because you become too close to people of other religions to not be either tolerant at one end of the spectrum or downright protective of your friends at the other end.
i'm surprised at this; some of my best "arguments for the sake of heaven" have been had with new yorkers!

I am somewhat puzzled about a couple of issues which never came up in New York but I seem to be forced to deal with at times now:
as a general rule of thumb, i would suggest that you start to develop your understanding of such issues from a jewish point of view that you feel comfortable with; familiarising yourself with the jewish vocabulary and approaches that might be useful would probably help.

1. Since I've gotten to my new destination, I've heard descriptions of a war between "the evil one" and the God we all share that plays out in all situations and we are all consistently involved regardless of the "banality" of the issue.
i strongly advise you to take a look at some of my posts on the yetzer ha-ra or "evil inclination", or indeed the concept of ha-satan within jewish thought.

I have been told, to my surprise, that the good works that I am currently doing in my current job will cause "interference" from evil forces.
well, that's just physics - all actions have equal and opposite reactions!

I have always thought of the evil one to be powerless before God unless we are unwise enough and have strayed enough to let him in.
the major difference is between the dualism of the typical evangelist christian outlook ("prince of this world" etc) and the functional outlook of normative judaism (district attorney / public prosecutor of the Divine).

Where I am now, physical phenomenon such as power outages and storms are blamed on the evil one., I had always thought that the evil one's power was limited to creating doubt and fooling you into following the wrong path. The rest was God's province.
it's *all* G!D, but evil is a human reality not a Divine one. the question is, as a human, what do you do in reaction? is it good or evil?

My concern is that "spiritual warefare" doesn't seem to be a metaphor for some people. It seems that they see themselves on a battlefield, at times against their fellow man, rather than emissaries of God's mercy.
military language and symbology can be somewhat seductive; it's not a very jewish way to think, certainly.

I know that there are also Jews who also take the hawk mentality to heart; that is clear and I won't argue that; it bothers me just as much as anything else. I just find it hard to deal with people on that level after coming from a place like New York where the physical world is harsh but the relgious world view is often one of acceptance and understanding.
i guess it's easy to be hawkish about people you don't encounter regularly; for me, it is the multicultural nature of places like new york that keeps people familiar with those that are different. in a monocultural place like the bible belt you're going to get assumptions and ignorance creeping in. the best defence is education, clarity and robust argument.

and welcome - barukh ha-ba.

b'shalom

bananabrain
 

IowaGuy

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IG,
I believe the original story WAS taken from "divine inspiration." But it has undergone many 'unauthorized revisions" down many, many centuries, and that the original story is a LOT older than what people believe, that the version given to the Jews was not the original version. Each civilization has done its own rewriting, so when the Jews first got it, it had already passed through several civilizations and been altered several times. (This also gets into how the Jews really are the "chosen" people, but that is a different topic for another thread.)

Nick, just to clarify, are you saying that a "divine inspiration" version was only given to one group of humans on this planet? I know your belief system relies heavily on the concept of fairness. Why didn't the "divine" power you reference share this same story with the native peoples of North America, South America, etc.? Why leave them in the dark?

I agree that stories that we now read in the bible were likely passed down orally for many generations before anything made it onto a stone tablet or papyrus scroll. Just like oral histories/beliefs were passed down in cultures all over the world. If one believes that the bible had "divine inspiration," did the oral histories of all the other people in the world also have divine inspiration? I don't believe "God" would have singled out a particular ethnic group as his favorite and shared information with them while witholding it from other ethnic groups across the globe.

My belief is that the authors of the bible (who had no divine influence in my opinion) didn't know about the "New World" a couple thosand years ago and therefore no mention was made of the people on these continents. Oh yeah, not much was known about dinosaurs back then so they didn't make it into the biblical history either. That's too bad as it would have cleared up some of the 6,000 year-old earth arguments of creationists that take a literal view of the bible :)
 

Dream

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Iowaguy said:
If instead it was written WITH divine intervention, then shouldn't we believe the entire bible?
You get the same benefit either way.

Fruit comes from God or from trees. Your mind does the same thing with information that your body does with fruit. Some gets used, some is ruffage. The Bible itself says it only leads to righteousness. Psalm 23:3 "He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness" Proverbs 6:20 "For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light" A light reveals the substance but is not the substance. If the Bible were the substance it would say so.
 
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