What's your take on the 2nd commandment?

Discussion in 'Abrahamic Religions' started by Namaste Jesus, Mar 31, 2014.

  1. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    As a post-script, I suppose my view is this:

    As a Catholic on this forum, the many permutations of Christianity I see are all variations on a theme: the 'rationalisation' of the message to sit comfortably within a contemporary cultural context. As part of that process, the 'miraculous' and the 'supernatural' are either dismissed altogether, or re-defined to fit within a subjective idea of 'the spiritual' (which is actually 'the sentimental'), and altogether a great deal of speculation is undergone, most of it resting on spurious subjective criteria.

    My question is: Why bother?

    If you don't believe in the Christ of Scripture and Tradition (the Tradition that produced the Scripture), then simply find something else to believe in, because there's no other Christ to be found, other than in the imagination.

    Be a humanist. Be agnostic or atheist. Be Jewish or Moslem, or Buddhist or whatever ... but above all, be honest to yourself, and if you can't bring yourself to believe, then find something you can believe in.

    But don't settle for a saccharine, sanitised version that massages your comfort zones.

    Bye all.
     
  2. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    Double-post ...
     
  3. A Cup Of Tea

    A Cup Of Tea Well-Known Member

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    This always stings in my eyes, some people being decent and some are not. A line that separates 'us' from 'them'. What is it not to be decent, and how should we relate to such people. Leaving this unsaid fills me with worry. If a parent of a murdered child question the sanctity of the murderers life, is that parent no longer decent?

    The sanctity of a life is always in effect for me, but I have spent much time arguing where taking one life over another would be a good. Intensely when I was considering going on armed peace keeping missions.

    Natural selection doesn't always work from a single animal perspective, the group mentality in herd animals give a wide variety in which members should be sacrificed for the survival of other members. The sanctity of every life could be explained as a facet of that biological imperative that a god may or may not have put in us.

    Looking out on the world, I question how common that notion is, simply looking at how many countries still practice capital punishment.

    EDIT: "In Japan, Emperor Saga abolished the death penalty in 818 under the influence of Shinto and it lasted until 1156. Therefore, capital punishment was not employed for 338 years in ancient Japan." Nicely done there Tad.
     
  4. Jane-Q

    Jane-Q ...pain...

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    idolatry

    Perhaps it is good that Thomas is putting this thread back on its original track - "idolatry" - the "thou shalt not" of the Second Commandment.

    One reason I like the Gospel of Mark so much . . . is that Mark squarely lays out the theological/ideological landscape of Jewish Monotheism in 30 CE Roman Palestine. The debates between the various parties and sects, and how Jesus critiques each and every one of them. Yet it is not a scattergun critique. Each critique leaves the same clear and simple message . . .

    Scribes: Mark has the most to say about this group. The scribes get their authority via the quoting of Scripture. Yet this is a "weak" authority. Moses talks to God in the Tent of Meeting. Scribes do not talk to God, they interpret "Moses' text." Jesus gets his authority, like the prophets of old, by speaking directly from God. Jesus - speaking from his heart, from the Spirit of the divine speaking through him. The scribes only see "Scripture," an intermediary between themselves and God. They dig around in Scripture looking for clues to "God's Plan" for Israel. God Himself is far away. Scribal authority resides in their intellect, witnessing "words on scrolls." Jesus can quote Scripture with the best of them, but does so only as backup arguments, to illustrate his principal message. That being . . . that God is near. And God's Kingdom is near - is being called into existence as Jesus speaks. Follow God's spirit, not old (outmoded or misinterpretable) words on scrolls.
    (Mark 12:28-34, also 12:35-40, 1:21-28, 9:11-13, 11:27-33, 7:1-23)

    Pharisees (Tradition of the Elders): For this group, it is not words on scrolls which connects you to God. It is instead "purity," how to make the flesh pure. A whole new class of laws which Jews should follow to be pure enough to be in the presence of God. It's the "new piety" . . . which the Pharisees are hauling out from Jerusalem to the provinces and beyond, to "educate" people how to properly be in the presence of God. To purify one's every actions. (Every good Jew is now a priest.) Jesus, in essence, asks "What's wrong with the old piety? Why do we need a couple hundred more laws? And who says Jerusalem knows better about how to get close to God - knows better than we do up here in Galilee? If the spirit is pure . . . isn't that enough?"
    (Mark 7:1-8, 1:21-29, also 7:9-23, 2:23-3:6, 8:11-13, 10:2-12, 11:27-33, 2:18-22, 12:13-17.)

    Sadducees: Piety for them is Old School: rote rituals performed exactingly. Songs of praise to God and blood sacrifices. Jesus quotes the prophets of Hezekiah's century, that God is sick and tired of Sacrifices. "Give me loving-kindness (hesed) instead." Sadducees care nothing for "love." To Jesus, love of God and love of neighbor trump all ritual behavior and all ethical formulas of conduct. Love comes from the spirit and is unmediated by priests or Elders or anybody else.
    (Mark 11:15-19, 12:33, also 12:18-27, 11:27-33, 13:1-2.)

    Herod (Antipas): This is an earthly kingship, of wealth and extravagance and corrupt ethics. It is not a David-style kingship, uniting the people in common cause. It is kingship of special interests and compromise, a kingship of the flesh - not of the spirit. Never acting in the name of God.
    (Mark 6:14-29, 2:16, 8:14-15, 12:13-17, 3:1-6.)

    Samaritans: They worship a God they "do not know," on their own mountain, not at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. But both mountains are beside the point, because God can be worshipped everywhere . . . "in spirit and truth."
    (John 4:20-24. Mark says nothing about the Samaritans.)

    John the Baptist (and by extension, the Essenes): John and his followers (like with the Essenes) see a great apocalypse on the horizon, when the corrupt old world will be swept away and new Kingdom of God will be ushered in. John (and the Essenes) are a harbinger of this "great event." But Jesus sees it a little differently, and (after John's death) sees John the Baptist's surviving followers (and the Essenes) as exclusionary separatists, outsiders interested in themselves as an "elect" group, uninterested in the great masses of people across the region. To Jesus, no small group has a stranglehold on God's spirit. Everyone has access to the Spirit. The great change will not come from ascetic outsiders but from a broad based elect of average mainstream folk, each individually awaking to the spirit.
    (Mark 2:18-22, 6:29.)

    Zealots: This group seeks a messiah - an anointed/adopted "Son of God" - to lead them to victory against Rome, and establish an independent Jewish State. King David was such a "Son of God" (a messiah) and the Zealots seek another such charismatic battle general. To Jesus, this is a political solution to a material problem. Not a celestial solution to a spiritual problem - which is the real problem. Ironically, Mark agrees with some aspect of this messianic "Son of God" model, despite Jesus refuting it by quoting Psalm 110 (Mark 12:35-37). Jesus instead refers to the "Son of Man" stories from the Book of Enoch or from Daniel 7. But he slants the "Son of Man" messianic model in the direction of the "Psalms of Lament" (Psalms 22/35/69) and 2nd Isaiah's "Songs of the Suffering Servant" (Isaiah 52/53): "How then is it written about the Son of Man, that he is to go through many sufferings and to be treated with contempt?" Jesus sees the true messiah as being a suffering savior. Not a flesh-and-blood King, but a spiritual redeemer. "Son of God" messiahs are a dime-a-dozen in his era, dozens of would-be "Kings" popping up every decade. The real deal is the suffering "Son of Man" messiah. Only Jesus volunteers for this spiritually-difficult role.
    (Mark 12:35-37, 8:27-38, 9:12-13, 9:30-32, also 2:10, 13:9-13.)

    To each and every one of these groups, Jesus is saying "Listen to God in your heart, speaking to you directly. Listen to the Spirit." Not to substitutes or stand-ins for God.
    Not words on scrolls, not new nor old forms of ritual piety, not corrupt kingship nor messianic kingship, not ascetic withdrawal from ordinary people.
    Each and all of these theological/ideological "answers" should be viewed (as I think Jesus in Mark's gospel does) - as "idols," as impotent replacements for the Spirit. As false connectives to God.

    To Jesus, unmediated spirit is the true form of Jewish Monotheism.

    I have to wonder . . . if Jesus were walking around our modern world , would he find true monotheism anywhere?
    What would he say about Liberal Christianity? Fundamentalism? Catholicism? New Age Christianity? Orthodox Christianity? Existential Christianity? etc . . . ?
    Just more words in books, more new or old forms of ritual piety, more corrupt or messianic politics, more withdrawal from ordinary people?
    True spirit anywhere?

    Or just more hardened hearts?
    More idols?

    Jane.

     
  5. Jane-Q

    Jane-Q ...pain...

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    P.S. Regarding Post #61:

    If the way Thomas depicts my approach to Jesus - or Tadashi's approach or Namaste Jesus' approach - can be assessed as an accurate picture of where each of us is coming from . . . yes, one could justifiably label it "idolatry."
    But none of us seem hung up on Scripture or Sacraments or Tradition or even Christhood . . . all of which (without coming off as unduly insensitive) could be described as idolatrous.

    Romantic idealists who respond defensively like Thomas does here - hardening their heart - are (as psychologists will tell you) typically repressing their own pet fixations and projecting a warped version of these fixations onto other people.

    The three of us (by contrast) - each in our different ways - are just trying to get back to Jesus. The real dude.
    To witness (something approximating) his actual presence.
    Pretty basic . . .
    Nothing idolatrous (nor particularly "sentimental") in this.

    Jane.

     
  6. Jane-Q

    Jane-Q ...pain...

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    if it is spontaneous = it isn't "moral" (or "free")

    Hi Tad.
    Hi A Cup Of Tea.

    "Every human life is sacred" is a concept that all decent human beings would understand and embrace, regardless of one's belief or disbelief in God. This is the absolute moral compass our conscience is supposed to operate on.
    --Tadashi (post #58).

    Natural selection doesn't always work from a single animal perspective, the group mentality in herd animals give a wide variety in which members should be sacrificed for the survival of other members. The sanctity of every life could be explained as a facet of that biological imperative that a god may or may not have put in us.
    --A Cup Of Tea (post #63).​

    Altruism is, yes, part of our sociobiological heritage. Our human genetics.
    But, yes, altruism is also part of the genetics of all social organisms, from honeybees to elephants.

    A willingness to die, if necessary, for one's fellow creatures. And to emotionally mourn those who do prematurely lose the "survival" battle.
    Traditional philosophy would like to extrapolate this altruism into a universal form of ethics. To think of this as the "moral" ideal.

    Since I moved back to the Pacific Northwest a few years ago, I've encountered a school of thought here which runs counter to conventional philosophy. A school of thought originating not in academia but in the local artscene and amongst the theologically minded.
    The problem these folk find with altruism is that there is inevitably . . . an "us versus them" equation to altruism. It is innate. You can't shake it.
    Morality does not equal altruism. Morality is something else entirely.

    When the human gene-code has stabilized in pretty-much its current form, 45 to 65 millennia ago, altruism works well for typical humans - who live in bands of about eleven individuals. This size group facilitates the spontaneous altruistic valuing of 100% of the members of this narrow group. Works a little less well with regards to broader groups which they are part of - to an individual's loose clan association (maybe 40 individuals). Altruism barely works with one's tribe and, beyond that, one's genetic racial group. And altruism doesn't even seem to apply to other human races, or other hominids, or other primates, or other mammals, or other "lower" animals.
    Early humans (living in tiny bands) see too much "them" in most other creatures and not enough "us." Signaling the limits to their innate altruism.

    This only begins to change with Neolithic agriculturalists and herders, when domestication of plants and animals makes larger groups both possible and necessary for mutual survival. Altruism becomes reformulated as the socio-religious basis of a communal ethics. Work together, for each other's prosperity - fight beside each other against common enemies and (if necessary) die for the common good.
    This modified altruism transcends clan or racial boundaries. It becomes part of civilized conditioning. An attitude trained into people. "Cultivated" (like the soil) to grow spontaneously within people's conscience as an ethical ideal . . . Conditioned altruism.

    Altruism is an objectification process. Whether innate or conditioned, it leads people to embrace "insiders" (as "human," as good people) and repudiate "outsiders" (as "less than human," as primitive animals).
    This is something done unconsciously. It is a spontaneous assessment.

    Here is where things get interesting.
    "Morality" is viewed (here in the Pacific Northwest) as something else entirely.

    Unlike other social creatures . . . humans - genetically - are (in a sense) an open book.
    Nothing is set in stone (not even "survival of the fittest"), but nothing is forbidden.
    For humans, nature does not make the rules. We do. (Or, in a sense, God does.)
    Our "nature" and our "nurture" (our genes and our training) can be "overruled" . . . i.e. we make up "the rules to live by" - as we go along.

    How does this work?

    When I did college and law school in the Pacific Northwest back in the 1980s, someone handed me this book to read. The Players of Null-A (aka The Pawns of Null-A) by A. E. van Vogt, something of a sci-fi classic from the 1940s. I've been rereading it this spring.

    The "saving the universe" storyline itself is as imaginative or as silly as most science-fantasy stories are. But underneath The Players of Null-A there sits a second storyline - an allegorical storyline about the nature of freewill.

    This man's face showed him to be a thalamic type individual. Emotions would rule him. Most of his actions and decisions would be reactions based upon emotional 'sets', and not upon Null-A cortical-thalamic processes.
    --(Chapter Two).​

    This Federation leader lacks Null-A (Non-Aristotelian) training, as Gilbert Gosseyn (the story's protagonist) can tell. This new method of training was developed and is now taught on Earth's Venus colony. Much of this training involves a philosophical form of scientific logic ("General Semantics"). But the key is not "ideas" in the abstract, but depends upon how you act in a specific moment and to the 100% uniqueness of the situation you find yourself in.
    You can "react thalamically" (egoistically) - based upon your instinctual proclivities or your cultural training. This is a spontaneous and unconscious reaction, devoid of freewill. This is the initial impulse everyone has . . . when they need to act in the here and now.

    What makes Null-A training different from other forms of cultural (i.e. "Aristotelian") training is pretty simple: stop the first impulse.
    When Gilbert Gosseyn needs to act, this is the first thing he does. Interrupt his automatic biological impulse. Give the situation just a tiny-bit-longer look, if only a fraction of a second. This interruption . . . short-circuits one's normal spontaneous/unconscious reaction (overrides one's egoistic imperatives).
    Null-A calls this a cortical-thalamic pause.

    Gosseyn's subsequent action, then, is neither innate nor conditioned. A Null-A action is an act of genuine freewill.

    The Pacific Northwest's school of thought sees "morality" the same way:
    1. "An act in a specific moment and responding to the 100% uniqueness of the situation."
    2. But with some kind of "short-circuiting of one's spontaneous/unconscious (biological and/or cultural) reaction." A fractional pause (a "God moment," if you will).
    3. Then making a (no longer "automatic") decision . . . and proactively proceeding from there.

    This hitting-the-"pause"-button, overriding automatic biological processes (like "egoism" and "altruism") . . . is what makes an action "free" and/or "moral."
    There are no rules (no genetic universals, no intellectualized set of ethical standards . . . all situations needing a decision are unique). There is only the temporary freezing of "programming" - whether that programming is cultural or instinctual or emotion-based or intellect-based or whatever.
    Freewill exists only in the "pause."
    Morality exists only in the "pause."

    Or, as someone I talked to, recently suggested (to put the equation in the negative) . . .
    When talking about "an action":

    If it is spontaneous,
    it ain't "moral" . . . or "free."

    Jane.

     
  7. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    Is that how you see it? Then I'll not bother you any further with my 'warped' and 'repressed pet fixations'.
     
  8. BlaznFattyz

    BlaznFattyz Active Member

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    my take is that God doesnt want people to worship any type of man made thing, idol, or false god. He wants all to worship Him and Him alone.
     
  9. Jane-Q

    Jane-Q ...pain...

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    But can I ask you a favor? Please don't play a game with me again as you admit in your post #48. I know there're some who'd enjoy that, and there're some who'd find your little attempt charming. But I'm not one of those people . . . "What possessed her" . . .

    I always only want 'straight-from-the-heart' conversations.

    --Tadashi (post #58).​

    Hi Tad.

    Yes, I don't know what possessed me. Sorry.
    (I sometimes "push" when I should stay passive, silent.)

    One half of me aches for (as do you) a spirituality which comes straight from the heart.

    The other half of me lives in a morally complicated world of cops and criminals, of jurisprudence and psychology. Here, everyone plays games. And here, you get eaten alive if you don't learn to play, and don't figure out how to play well.
    You have to realize, Tad . . . these are not insincere games. They are deadly serious, morally. Sometimes lives hang in the balance.

    Please understand, when I "play games" here at Interfaith . . . they are (likewise) not insincere games. I just sometimes choose the wrong moment to push. My games are just another route (moral not a spiritual route) to get inside myself and inside others, to get at life's hard-as-hard-to-pindown meanings.

    Jane.

     
  10. Jane-Q

    Jane-Q ...pain...

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    Is that how you see it? Then I'll not bother you any further with my 'warped' and 'repressed pet fixations'.
    --Thomas (post #67).​

    Come on, Thomas.
    Stop self-dramatizing like a sitcom Jewish mother!
    You're more generous at heart than that kind of peevishness.

    You pointed out to me, somewhere, that I was not looking at the "whole" of Scripture but nitpicking the details.
    All I am saying here . . . is look in the mirror:

    I may be wrong in what I say - on this subject or that - but most of the time I make some pretty strong arguments . . . when you look at the "whole" of what I am saying.
    But, Thomas, you personally (time and again) nitpick this fact or that fact - in isolation - as if by defeating each fact you will defeat the whole.
    (It is the principal way defense attorneys work in jury trials: i.e. paint "doubt" on every piece of evidence the prosecution presents.
    Fortunately for society, the judge always councils the jury to look at the "preponderance" of the evidence in light of the prosecution's "theory of the case." Juries are required to pay attention to overall "reasonable" doubt.
    Not the frivolous doubt defense attorney's try to instill in jurors' minds, by subliminally suggesting to jurors that each piece of evidence needs to be absolutely unassailable . . . And if it is not so, thus the whole case fails . . . And the accused should be set free.
    Thomas, if this latter practice were the legal standard, most criminals would be out on the streets, today.)

    You consistently choose (consciously or unconsciously) to see only the details of what I say and not the syntax which ties them into a whole argument. Into a kind of a theory which weaves events into a pattern. A pattern which makes sense out of the details (details, where each one of which, in isolation, is inevitably imperfect).
    (Okay "patterns" are part of my day-job's job-description. I am paid good money because I am good at seeing patterns that most law enforcement people miss.)

    I'm not asking you to drop your worldview and adopt my forensic methodology.
    All I am asking is for you to pay attention to the "full ecology" of the information in front of you. Question the parts, if you must . . . but critique the whole, first.
    (I'm not a patsy for somebody else's ideas. Yes, I read other thinkers. But these ideas are entirely mine. They have a unique ecology.)

    I have no desire to bicker. (Does nothing for me.)
    I want (I yearn) to discuss and argue ideas, Thomas. But ideas fully-contextualized, the ideas I am actually stating.
    Am I expecting too much?

    Jane.

     
  11. christodoulos

    christodoulos Interfaith Forums

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    The reason orthodox use ikons and forbid statues is because the statues are a throwback to pagan idol worship which showed full body erotica .

    the ikons are considered a form of religious writing ; hieroglyphics and must be two dimensional and show images in seated positions . ikons of today break the rules.
    and true ikons are hard to find.
    Carving per se is not forbidden but only by tradition. The crucifix in orth churches is of carved or sculpted wood . the exception to the rule.
     
  12. Frrostedman

    Frrostedman Keepin' it cool

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    Ad hominem, Jane. No reason to attack Thomas' character. That is, unless you feel that your arguments aren't strong enough on their own. He presented his opinion and it was a damn fine one if you ask me. A watered down, touch-feely, fuzzy-bunny, biblical verses-cherry-picked Jesus is absolutely pointless. If Jesus "the real dude" is defined as whatever anyone's comfortable with, then He becomes a mythical figure. To Thomas' list of suggestions, I'll add "New Age philosophy" as something more suitable for those who subscribe to an unbiblical Jesus.

    As for the op and the meaning of the 2nd Commandment. It seems pretty clear to me. God does not want us making objects to worship, as if those "graven images" hold any power at all. Forget that practice. Worship and call upon God by praying. Ascribe all the power and all your thoughts on the Father and the Son, not a piece of carved wood. I think God finds it insulting for someone to put an object on an altar and pray to it.

    Most others define countless other actions as worshiping idols too. Like the love of money, or praying to some made up entity. I honestly don't think God intended that extrapolation. I think He said graven images because He meant exactly that. Besides, the 1st Commandment covers things like worshiping anyone or anything other than the true God. But I realize I am part of a very small minority in that opinion.
     
  13. Thomas

    Thomas Administrator Admin

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    I am neither dramatising nor peevish, simply I see no point in wasting my time, and the tendency to ad hominems here usually signals the fact someone's run out of steam ...

    In your view. To me their strength is undermined by their errors. Too much post-modern interpretation of a pre-modern mindset, it seems to me. You're putting your thoughts in their minds.

    Well normally that's how scholarly critique works.

    Let's cut to the chase.
    My conviction is that Jesus Christ is the realised principle of the hypostatic union that bridges the chasm between the Uncreate and the created, the cosmos. Yours, and I will admit I am not at all sure how you see Him, seems to imply that Jesus Christ is the manifestation of some internal psycho-spiritual process ... the actuality of the person, His words and His deeds, you seem to dismiss by your critique of the sacred scribe and the process of Scripture, on grounds that seem far from secure ...

    For example, I cannot see how anyone can dismiss the words of Matthew as belonging to Matthew and not Jesus, and then in the next breath declare the words of the hypothetical — and highly questionable — Q source as being authentically Christ's own words, when we have not one shred of evidence to support the existence of any such document, let alone its authenticity! Supposing the author of Q was, like Matthew, doing his own thing?

    There's no need to rehearse the Q discussion here, suffice to say whilst it serves as a handy deus ex machina solution to 'the Synoptic Question', it poses more questions than it answers, which is usually a sign of something not quite right ...

    The point is, I rather think, and I think I've demonstrated, that your 'forensic methodology' assumes, it seems to me, far more than a forensic analysis actually supports.

    But your 'full ecology" seems woefully lacking in its strata. You've never once mentioned the Patristic Era, but jumped about a millennia, from the pre-Apostolic to the Scholars (c 1000AD) ... that's like discussing the development of philosophy in the west, without even a nod towards Plato.

    No ...

    But don't be surprised if I reject the popular fallacy that we can dispense with the objective Christ of Scripture — and let's face it, that's the only Christ we objectively have — in favour of some imaginary and highly subjective ideal, a projection born of our own internal psychodramas.

    That seems to me a covert anthropomorphism that, surely, can only lead to the 'idolisation of the self', and which brings us back to the topic at hand?
     
  14. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule New Member

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    Referring Ex. 20:4-5m Nahum Sarna writes:
     
  15. Namaste Jesus

    Namaste Jesus Praise the Lord and Enjoy the Chai Moderator

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    We have 2 Jewish members in our Temple. One will come to the Temple, we usually conduct services outside, but has never actually entered the building. There's lots of Hindu and Christian figurines and photos inside that he is uncomfortable with.

    The other individual has no problem with our decorations though, nor does his father- a Rabbi who drops by from time to time.
     
  16. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule New Member

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    Therefore?
     
  17. Namaste Jesus

    Namaste Jesus Praise the Lord and Enjoy the Chai Moderator

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    Not sure what you mean. I just find it interesting that 2 members of the Jewish faith have a difference of opinion as to what the artwork in our Temple represents. I've always thought of the Jewish religion as being fairly strict in this area, but apparently it's not that cut and dry.
     
  18. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule New Member

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    That is remarkable. The standard joke among Jews is: "Two Jews, three opinions." In fact, Judaism both fosters and legitimatizes depute. See, for example, this well known bit of midrash.
     
  19. Frrostedman

    Frrostedman Keepin' it cool

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    Indeed. John 1:51. Jesus as Jacob's Ladder.
     
  20. Marcialou

    Marcialou We are stardust

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    Tea
    My take on your dilemma expressed in #63 is this:

    Decency, like many phenomena understood in binary terms, on closer examination, are on a continuum. There are some things that are more or less decent or indecent than others, like murder is worse than insulting someone. Likewise, decency can range from complimenting someone on their clothes to saving someone from a burning building.

    I’ll take the scenario of the parent of a murdered child one step further. Not only do they question the sanctity of the murderer's life, they strongly advocate for it politically. Let’s give them some compassion for their pain and not condemn them for acting on it in ways we think are wrong. We can still condemn their political movement.

    Also, separating ‘us’ from ‘them’ can be dangerous because it can make us feel smug and not realize that we may have some indecent tendencies, too. I am not in favor of the death penalty, but then I wonder, what about Hitler? Should we make an exception for leaders who are responsible for mass genocide? Does that make me an indecent person?

    There’s a curriculum called “Facing History and Ourselves,” that might help clarify the dilemma. It uses the Holocaust as a model of extreme indecency. It explains the continuum that starts with prejudice and proceeds to school yard bullying, to ignoring movements like Fascism as thy move from the corners of society to the mainstream, and finally to rulers like Hitler.

    Facing History explains that there are four roles when it comes to victimization. You can be the victim, the victimizer, the rescuer, or the innocent bystander. All of us play all of these roles in the course of our lives, usually in small ways. The program’s goals are to teach students at the middle school and high school level to recognize these qualities in themselves and others and to make good decisions.
     

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