Thursday, October 11, 2007

Jews Are Not Perfectionists, According to Some

If you haven't heard about it already, politically reactionary demagogue Ann Coulter was on Donny Deutch's talk show last night, and she told him that his being Jewish was okay and all, but he'd be "perfected" if he let Jesus into his heart.

I'm not too troubled by this. Any moderately (small-c) conservative version of the liturgy keeps the Aleinu and similar statements that, eventually, the rest of the world is going to wake up and say, like the Rowan Atkinson sketch about hell, that the Jews are right. So if other people are harboring the hope in their hearts that I will suddenly accept the Bahá’u’lláh into my heart, as long as it's not a major part of my interaction with those people, I do not care.

My favorite response is from New York Post editorialist (and son of the author of a famous neoconservative article on African-American/Jewish relations) John Podhoretz, who said:
If I could be assured that conversion to Christianity would instantly cause me
to lose 80 lbs., give me infinite patience when my daughters wake me up at 5 in
the morning, allow me to read 100 pages an hour with total recall, feel complete
indifference when some @$%&^ cuts me off in traffic, grow my hair back on
the top of my head and make it disappear from my ears, and keep me from checking
my Amazon ranking when I have a book out, I would seriously consider it.

I second that.

I wish to close with a piece of trivia. While discussing Ms. Coulter's inability to avoid proseltyzing cable talk show hosts, Emily2 and I got into a tangential discussion about the legal concept of "perfecting" secured debts under American law, which allows the person with the perfected debt of getting first proceeds out of the house, car, stock, etc. when it's sold at foreclosure. I set forth that perfecting people has been illegal in the U.S. since the Thirteenth Amendment, to which Emily2 pointed out that most references to Jews being perfected as chattels come from antiquity, with the most famous example ending in a whole mess o' plagues.

Just FYI.


Jack's Shack said...

Who cares what she says. People can say anything, doesn't mean that it is true.

If people start treating us differently that is a different story.

DaGirl said...

i just watched the video of Ann Coulter on the show...and i agree that theres no reason to be bothered by what she has to say.

She comes off so bigoted and closeminded, that no one is going to suddenly agree with what shes saying. Those that do agree with it would have felt that way irregardless.

montana urban legend said...

I can't say that I'm all that comfortable accepting a sense of spiritual superiority over others. Ann might not be leading an anti-Semitic movement, but her beliefs were the root of a many, if not most. Sure the times changed, so we hope. But why the beliefs shouldn't is beyond me. Hence, Nostra Aetate, etc. I hardly think Jews or Catholics are worse off for such a pronouncement, even though Mel Gibson might disagree.

Some, even many, Christians might still hold strongly to a sense of spiritual superiority over others, as might Jews with your counter-example of the Aleinu. And I suppose that's a justification of sorts for such mutually divisive sentiments. But it's not a very pretty one. In fact it's an ugly one that only our enlightenment in other areas prevents from escalating into the full-scale violence, persecution and genocide that it would have or used to in the past. And that little consideration doesn't speak well of those who continue to reject Nostra Aetate or who take pride or otherwise find some sort of mysterious need fulfilled in reciting certain choice verses of the Aleinu.

The Pedant said...

Montana- While I can understand your position, my belief on religion is that, unless you believe your current strain of worship and practice is the most correct of all possible strains, what you're doing is engaging in irrational tribalism for no good reason.

Because, honestly, without an actual belief that god chose the Jews for something, I don't see a reason for us to remain a quirky little people infuriating the rest of the world. What would be the point? That we've kept up some form of ethnic tribalism for two millennia? That's kind of not an excuse.

montana urban legend said...

The fact that you see tribalism as a necessarily predominant theme in religion at all shows that our positions differ in more than just one way. My position, in this day and age, has more to do with the person choosing (or choosing to remain with) the religion that is most "correct" for him or herself, not most "correct" theologically or by accident of birth. And seeing as how you appeal to the theology of "chosen-ness" you would also, I would assume, have to accept the often accompanying theology that gentiles, or any other nation, are no less "chosen", just chosen for something else. And "chosen" for something that obviously doesn't preclude what must be the vast majority of them from ultimately participating in Isaiah's eschatological vision - which is not a particularly low role to occupy.

As far as your appeal to history goes, maybe we could continue to mix that perspective with theology, as you do. I just think that to do so with concepts of superiority/inferiority infused in it is something that I find not only spiritually destructive but a disastrous approach socially, if history is any guide.

Personally, I believe that the Jews have played a very important role in history, but I decline to speculate on what sort of theological end that role may or may not have (also) served. So no, I don't think that the fact that they (as have many other sects) have remained distinct, has served no other purpose than to further a particularly useless or nefarious tribalism - either to just their own supposed detriment or as a bad example generally.

The Rooster said...

Mr. Pedant,

You write:

"Montana- While I can understand your position, my belief on religion is that, unless you believe your current strain of worship and practice is the most correct of all possible strains, what you're doing is engaging in irrational tribalism for no good reason."

I agree with you 100%. I would just add that all religions are equally incorrect and devoid of metaphysical truth. Except Scientology, which is the One True Faith.

Zie said...

hahahahahaha. oh scientology...truth claims are lame. you can only prove or disprove the claim within their own system of thought as outside of it, they would merely be irrelevant. I have no problem with people believing what they believe (with common ethics observed) as long as they live in their myth. But one myth can not disprove another. I don't necessarily believe all truth claims are inherently dangerous but they do run that risk.

Anonymous said...

"you can only prove or disprove the claim within their own system of thought as outside of it, they would merely be irrelevant"

Are you saying this of ANY truth claim? Like the claim "'My name is not really The Rooster' is true"? Isn't it important to figure out normative epistemic criteria so that we can reach some agreement on what is true and what is false? I hope I am not misreading you. -TR

Zie said...

Sorry. I primarily meant the truth claims found in religion, not the basics of logic or basic reasoning. I just find it ridiculous when religions (or you can argue other truth claim based social groupings) use their truth claim to disprove another. its not useful. "Judaism is wrong because Jesus tells us so" is useless as many Jews would say "So what. Jesus isn't my boy." Or I guess it would work with some philosophical systems. Kant's metaphysical system can not be disproved by Whitehead's metaphysical systems because Whitehead rejects several of Kant's founding principles... thus, Kant would say "so what, you are wrong" and Whitehead would say that his system is correct. There are many ways to interpret reality, and often within a methodology there are still numerous ways. I don't know enough about formal logic to include that... or mathematics. 1 may indeed always mean 1 but I'm sure there is some freak out there who denies that.

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