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57 Responses

  1. EG
    EG November 7, 2011 at 7:36 pm |

    I clicked on that link, and now I know that the split-gill fungus thing has been documented growing in human nostrils, lungs, and brains. i did not need to know that.

  2. Shoshie
    Shoshie November 7, 2011 at 8:56 pm |

    Those comics are hilarious!

    But, of course, it’s a post that mentions religion, so I must quibble about something.

    I fucking hate the term Judeo-Christian. It’s awful and appropriative and has antisemitic, imperialist origins and I hate it I hate it I hate it. The only Jew I’ve ever heard sign off on that phrase is Dennis Prager, and he’s a fuckhead.

  3. Shoshie
    Shoshie November 7, 2011 at 9:01 pm |

    Also, the idea that the world is created exactly as it should be may be a Christian idea, but you will be hard-pressed to find it in contemporary Jewish theology. (See point A: “Judeo-Christian” is a terrible phrase that should be set on fire and fed to split-gill fungi.)

  4. EG
    EG November 7, 2011 at 9:06 pm |

    I’ve long suspected that it’s a term used primarily to pretend that right-wing Christians in the US aren’t anti-semitic, and secondarily to try to get US Jews on board with anti-Islam sentiment and action. Either way, no love for it from me, either.

  5. Nia
    Nia November 7, 2011 at 9:37 pm |

    Everything Shoshie said. There’s plenty to criticize re: Jewish readings of sex, sexuality and gender roles in society, but when critiquing Christianity / Christian readings of same, please leave us out of it. NOT the same people. NOT the same faith. NOT making that distinction erases us.

    That said – cute cartoons. I love cartoons.

  6. Jadey
    Jadey November 7, 2011 at 9:39 pm |

    Shoshie: I fucking hate the term Judeo-Christian. It’s awful and appropriative and has antisemitic, imperialist origins and I hate it I hate it I hate it. The only Jew I’ve ever heard sign off on that phrase is Dennis Prager, and he’s a fuckhead.

    co-sign.

    As to the rest, I love hoisting badly-conceived arguments by their own petard! Appeals to either natural or divine law tend to only be convincing to people who really wanted to be convinced in the first place and who know nothing of biology.

  7. Jadey
    Jadey November 7, 2011 at 9:48 pm |

    I also think this points out the need to approach these beliefs for what they are: rationalizations, and not arguments. A rationalization is a reason to justify a conclusion one has already reached, not a means to evaluate whether or not one should support a possible conclusion, and merely factually debunking them from an alternative viewpoint isn’t generally sufficient to change the mind of a person motivated to hold a particular conclusion. See also: Amp’s recent post about The Most Common Real World Argument against Same-Sex Marriage.

  8. Donna L
    Donna L November 7, 2011 at 9:48 pm |

    Great cartoons, and I too agree with Shoshie about the use of Judeo-Christian. It annoys me almost as much as “Old Testament.”

  9. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig November 7, 2011 at 10:03 pm |

    They left out the bit about the slugs. Everyone go read about that. And then read the comments. I liked the one about G*d needing therapy, though considering the duck-billed platypus and the flightless cormorant, I think an intervention is in order.

  10. Li
    Li November 7, 2011 at 10:27 pm |

    Politicalguineapig, I’m not sure if you’ve seen this, but this video of leopard slugs mating is one of the most hypnotically beautiful things I’ve seen.

  11. Alcharisi
    Alcharisi November 7, 2011 at 10:56 pm |

    Co-sign everything Shoshie said, as well. Especially the part about Dennis Prager being a fuckhead.
    (Fun fact: I have a document full of catty footnotes I had *alas* to remove from my thesis. Appended to a line about the “wisdom of repugnance” argument, as propagated by Leon Kass: “Also, Kass is a pompous fuckwit.” I firmly believe such statements should be encouraged in academic discourse.)

    Also, I encourage anyone who is interested in more weird sex to check out Olivia Judson’s highly entertaining book, Dr Tatiana’s Sex Advice To All Creation.

  12. EG
    EG November 7, 2011 at 10:59 pm |

    Alcharisi: I have a document full of catty footnotes I had *alas* to remove from my thesis. Appended to a line about the “wisdom of repugnance” argument, as propagated by Leon Kass: “Also, Kass is a pompous fuckwit.” I firmly believe such statements should be encouraged in academic discourse.

    Heh. I had some similar footnotes in my dissertation regarding Howard Bloom.

  13. Victoria
    Victoria November 7, 2011 at 11:09 pm |

    I was interested to read Mark Silk on the origins of the term Judeo-Christian. I do, though, observe that its common use nowadays seems to be appropriative and problematic. And it’s certainly dangerously misleading to point at a common Christian interpretation of anything in Genesis and assert that this is the “Judeo-Christian” view: I’m embarrassed to admit how recently I discovered that Judaism has no concept of “the fall” and original sin.

    I note also that there are a number of Jewish and Christian theologians working in the process theology school who might dispute the notion that the universe was created as God wills it to be.

  14. Jadey
    Jadey November 7, 2011 at 11:19 pm |

    Alcharisi: Fun fact: I have a document full of catty footnotes I had *alas* to remove from my thesis. Appended to a line about the “wisdom of repugnance” argument, as propagated by Leon Kass: “Also, Kass is a pompous fuckwit.” I firmly believe such statements should be encouraged in academic discourse.

    The very solemn purpose of the footnotes is academic cattiness! Well, that and tangential but fascinating trivia.

  15. Donna L
    Donna L November 7, 2011 at 11:29 pm |

    Victoria:
    IwasinterestedtoreadMarkSilkontheoriginsofthetermJudeo-Christian.Ido,though,observethatitscommonusenowadaysseemstobeappropriativeandproblematic.Andit’scertainlydangerouslymisleadingtopointatacommonChristianinterpretationofanythinginGenesisandassertthatthisisthe“Judeo-Christian”view:I’membarrassedtoadmithowrecentlyIdiscoveredthatJudaismhasnoconceptof“thefall”andoriginalsin.

    InotealsothatthereareanumberofJewishandChristiantheologiansworkingintheprocesstheologyschoolwhomightdisputethenotionthattheuniversewascreatedasGodwillsittobe.

    To be fair, I’ll link the Goldman article that Silk criticizes so vehemently: http://www.religiondispatches.org/archive/politics/3984/what_do_we_mean_by_%E2%80%98judeo-christian%E2%80%99_/

    Silk’s article kind of annoyed me; I have no idea if he’s Jewish himself, but his reference to “the least attractive aspect of the Jewish critique of the phrase” (as if Jews are a monolith) was bothersome. He may well be correct in his historical point that Judeo-Christian was used originally in the 19th and early 20th century against anti-Semites, to emphasize that Christianity had its origin in Judaism. But it seems to me that what he ignores is that in doing so, the people who used that term weren’t denigrating Jews, but were instead erasing the difference between Judaism and Christianity, with — perhaps — a nod to supersessionism. For all of Silk’s talk of commonality and “genetic identity” (I assume he’s talking about the “DNA” of the two religions!), I think Goldman’s basic point that the term really makes no sense as a substantive matter (wholly apart from its current use by right-wingers), and that the two religions are fundamentally incompatible, is entirely valid. Also, Silk almost seems to be suggesting that Christianity bears the same relationship to Judaism that Christian heresies of late antiquity and the Middle Ages, and Mormonism, bear to Christianity. I don’t think so.

  16. Mezzanine
    Mezzanine November 8, 2011 at 12:10 am |

    It annoys me almost as much as “Old Testament.”

    Donna, would you consider it less offensive if I was to say “Jewish Bible” and “New Testament” for the two? Or would there be another term you’d prefer?

  17. Mezzanine
    Mezzanine November 8, 2011 at 12:14 am |

    On the subject of the ridiculous “bible” article:

    Grrr. I hate it when Christians go around being horrible to QUILTBAG folks and making me feel horrified to share a faith with them. And this article, as well, is just flat out wrong about far too many biblical concepts. “Sodomite” didn’t mean gay, for crying out loud!

  18. EG
    EG November 8, 2011 at 12:37 am |

    EG: Heh. I had some similar footnotes in my dissertation regarding Howard Bloom.

    Ugh. I meant Harold Bloom. Harold. Harold.

  19. DonnaL
    DonnaL November 8, 2011 at 2:02 am |

    EG: Ugh. I meant Harold Bloom. Harold. Harold.

    God. Hasn’t he retired yet? He was already a professor when I was an undergraduate (although I never took a course from him), and that was a long time ago. I always thought his writing was obfuscatory, but then again I’m no English major. Ever since the Naomi Wolf article about the way he sexually harassed her, though, that’s what I associate him with.

  20. matlun
    matlun November 8, 2011 at 2:03 am |

    Shoshie: Also, the idea that the world is created exactly as it should be may be a Christian idea

    Is this really a generally accepted idea in Christianity? There is the whole Original Sin and fall from grace. And animal behavior has not traditionally been seen as moral (?)

    I feel these comics would work much better against the traditional silly “it’s unnatural” arguments than against the above “the Bible says so”.

  21. DonnaL
    DonnaL November 8, 2011 at 2:14 am |

    Mezzanine:
    Itannoysmealmostasmuchas“OldTestament.”

    Donna, would you consider it less offensive if I was to say “JewishBible” and “NewTestament” for the two? Or would there be another term you’d prefer?

    Jewish Bible or Hebrew Bible is fine. It’s not my place to tell Christians what to call their sacred text, so if they want to call it the New Testament, that’s their business. I just wish more people understood the meaning of that name, and that it was specifically intended, especially when juxtaposed with what Christians call the “Old” Testament, not as a chronological comparison but to convey the idea that the “Old” has been superseded, invalidated, and replaced by the “New,” both generally and in terms of everything about the covenant, etc. In the same way that virtually every single word in the Hebrew Bible was appropriated and recast as a prophecy of and allegory for Jesus and Christianity (while simultaneously being denigrated, of course!), and that so many of the details in the Christian Bible were specifically written to make it appear that those prophecies had been fulfilled. “Historicizing prophecy,” as the process has been described.

  22. T. Smythe
    T. Smythe November 8, 2011 at 5:27 am |

    DonnaL, Christians *do* believe that the New Testament supersedes the Old in a number of meaningful ways, don’t they? I don’t understand the objection to the name.

    It’s also very strange to me to talk about Christians “appropriating” the words of the Hebrew Bible. It’s as much their holy book as anyone’s, isn’t it?

    Myself, I usually use the name Tanakh to refer to the document when speaking about it in a Jewish context, and Old Testament in a Christian.

  23. EG
    EG November 8, 2011 at 8:06 am |

    DonnaL: God. Hasn’t he retired yet? He was already a professor when I was an undergraduate (although I never took a course from him), and that was a long time ago. I always thought his writing was obfuscatory, but then again I’m no English major. Ever since the Naomi Wolf article about the way he sexually harassed her, though, that’s what I associate him with.

    Oh my God, do not even get me started. The most charitable way I can think about him is to consider how difficult it must have been for him to claw his way into academia in the face of the much stronger anti-semitism of this country back then. Nonetheless, he put in so much work to get academic white man privilege that he has promptly turned around to decry…everybody else. According to him, academia went downhill when feminists and people who study race and class in literature started ruining everything because they hate literature (people who hate literature tend not to make a lifetime of studying and teaching it, but whatever, we don’t love it the way that Bloom loves it, so that doesn’t count, I guess). When I’m feeling less charitable, the words “pompous asshole blowhard” enter the picture.

    T. Smythe: DonnaL, Christians *do* believe that the New Testament supersedes the Old in a number of meaningful ways, don’t they? I don’t understand the objection to the name.

    Because the implication of using it in common parlance is that Christians are universally right. If that’s what you want to imply, go ahead and use it, but don’t expect Jews to be OK with it.

    T. Smythe: It’s also very strange to me to talk about Christians “appropriating” the words of the Hebrew Bible. It’s as much their holy book as anyone’s, isn’t it?

    Given the last several hundred years of Christian-Jewish relations, no, I don’t think it’s as much theirs as it is anybody’s. Once you spend centuries using the 100-page sequel you wrote as an excuse to murder Jews, you lose any moral right you may have.

  24. Victoria
    Victoria November 8, 2011 at 8:22 am |

    DonnaL sugguested:

    Jewish Bible or Hebrew Bible is fine. It’s not my place to tell Christians what to call their sacred text, so if they want to call it the New Testament, that’s their business.

    I’ve adopted the usage recommended by both Jewish and Christian scholars at the Institute for Christian and Jewish Studies, using the term “Shared Scriptures” for the portion of the Bible that we hold in common. Because a text does not stand independent of its interpretation, the “Old Testament” and the “Jewish Bible” are not really the same thing: the former is interpreted through the New Testament, and the latter is interpreted through the Talmud.

    This lets me avoid the use of the problematic term “Old Testament”, as well as avoiding problematic statements such as “The Jewish Bible foretells the coming of Christ in the book of Isaiah.”

  25. Emburii
    Emburii November 8, 2011 at 8:34 am |

    [quote]Also, Silk almost seems to be suggesting that Christianity bears the same relationship to Judaism that Christian heresies of late antiquity and the Middle Ages, and Mormonism, bear to Christianity. I don’t think so.[/quote]

    Why not? The comparison seems pretty apt, from this outsider’s point of view; newer ideologies using the older structures and texts repurpose the religion they’re used to in more ‘modern’ or useful ways. Both have ‘shared scriptures’ and borrowed ideas, Christianity from the Judaic concept of a Messiah among other things and then the late Christian ‘heresies’ and Mormonism from Christianity itself. They may not have the doddering amount of time that the older versions of religion have had, but their claims do pretty much the same thing with exactly the same proof and function the same way as any other religious claim, as a psychological and social tool.

  26. attackfish
    attackfish November 8, 2011 at 9:10 am |

    Emburii:
    Why not? The comparison seems pretty apt, from this outsider’s point of view; newer ideologies using the older structures and texts repurpose the religion they’re used to in more ‘modern’ or useful ways. Both have ‘shared scriptures’ and borrowed ideas, Christianity from the Judaic concept of a Messiah among other things and then the late Christian ‘heresies’ and Mormonism from Christianity itself. They may not have the doddering amount of time that the older versions of religion have had, but their claims do pretty much the same thing with exactly the same proof and function the same way as any other religious claim, as a psychological and social tool.

    That dottering amount of time is time in which Judaism evolved away from what it had been as profoundly as Christianity did, but in a completely different direction, which most Christians like to forget. Judaism isn’t just Christianity minus Jesus. We have two thousand years of tradition they don’t share, and vise versa. It’s like talking about the Hindu-Buddhist tradition. Buddhism was developed in a Hindu context, but it happened so long ago that they are now two very different religions.

  27. Alcharisi
    Alcharisi November 8, 2011 at 9:32 am |

    That dottering amount of time is time in which Judaism evolved away from what it had been as profoundly as Christianity did, but in a completely different direction, which most Christians like to forget. Judaism isn’t just Christianity minus Jesus. We have two thousand years of tradition they don’t share, and vise versa.

    Not to mention developing methods of reading and interpreting Scriptures that differ (often wildly) from the reading and interpreting methods of various Christianities.

    EG: It’s always thrilling when your work involves unhealthy doses of exposure to assholes, isn’t it? There was another writer I was working with whose writing about sexuality was just so frustrating (in addition to making the usual bullshit “natural law” based arguments about homosexuality, the actual writing about sex was just aesthetically painful) that I was actually concerned that I would damage my library books from banging my head against them so much.

    Jadey: I totally agree. This is why footnotes are like, my favorite thing ever. Alas, even there I’m pretty sure “fuckwit” wouldn’t pass muster with my advisor.

    But, on the original topic of the post: In the context of my own research–my thesis is on the Conservative Movement’s (in American Judaism) 2006 decision allowing for the ordination of gay and lesbian rabbis, and my research interests revolve around finding places for sexual and gender minorities in halakhic Judaism, and Jewish sexual ethics more generally–I have leaned perhaps more than I’d like to on a version of the “Deus Vult” argument: that God doesn’t make mistakes (given the consensus on the pretty fixed nature of sexual orientation.) And the reason I don’t want to lean as hard on it as I have is that I can totally see it coming back to bite me in the ass when I start doing more work on trans issues– I would imagine that a number of theistic trans people would argue, “Yeah, God gave me a female gender identity and stuck me in a male body–I’d say they fucked up pretty good.”

  28. Tei Tetua
    Tei Tetua November 8, 2011 at 9:46 am |

    So what you’re saying is this God guy has been on the job since, like, forever, and anyway he’s an old sexist, and it’s time He retired? Sounds reasonable.

  29. attackfish
    attackfish November 8, 2011 at 10:50 am |

    Alcharisi: I would imagine that a number of theistic trans people would argue, “Yeah, God gave me a female gender identity and stuck me in a male body–I’d say they fucked up pretty good.”

    I guess I would (as a Jew) see that the way I see my disability. Did God seriously fuck up in giving it to me? Um?

  30. Amelia ze lurker
    Amelia ze lurker November 8, 2011 at 11:08 am |

    Those cartoons remind me of this book: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dr_Tatiana's_Sex_Advice_to_All_Creation

    I discovered this book right about the same time I got really into Natalie Angier (middle school) and it was AWESOME.

  31. matlun
    matlun November 8, 2011 at 11:43 am |

    attackfish: I guess I would (as a Jew) see that the way I see my disability. Did God seriously fuck up in giving it to me? Um?

    Possibly?
    Isn’t that question just a very specific and limited version of the problem of evil which theologians have struggled with since forever?

  32. attackfish
    attackfish November 8, 2011 at 11:53 am |

    matlun: Yep.

  33. Q Grrl
    Q Grrl November 8, 2011 at 11:57 am |

    I think of ourselves as questions that the universe is asking in order to learn more about itself. Like: what do I learn about myself if I create *this* type of human or *this* type of human, and on and on. Every experience is valid because every experience is an answer to some question.

  34. Donna L
    Donna L November 8, 2011 at 12:08 pm |

    Emburii:
    [quote]Also,SilkalmostseemstobesuggestingthatChristianitybearsthesamerelationshiptoJudaismthatChristianheresiesoflateantiquityandtheMiddleAges,andMormonism,beartoChristianity.Idon’tthinkso.[/quote]

    Whynot?Thecomparisonseemsprettyapt,fromthisoutsider’spointofview;newerideologiesusingtheolderstructuresandtextsrepurposethereligionthey’reusedtoinmore‘modern’orusefulways.Bothhave‘sharedscriptures’andborrowedideas,ChristianityfromtheJudaicconceptofaMessiahamongotherthingsandthenthelateChristian‘heresies’andMormonismfromChristianityitself.Theymaynothavethedodderingamountoftimethattheolderversionsofreligionhavehad,buttheirclaimsdoprettymuchthesamethingwithexactlythesameproofandfunctionthesamewayasanyotherreligiousclaim,asapsychologicalandsocialtool.

    The obvious differences that make the analogy invalid in my opinion include (1) the fact that Christianity, the so-called Christian heresies, and Mormonism all consider or considered themselves part of Christianity and all have Jesus at their center, whereas Christianity hasn’t ever really considered itself simply an aspect or “denomination” of Judaism, (2) the fact that the actual relationship between the “heresies”/Mormonism and mainstream Christianity never was or has been remotely analogous to the relationship between Christianity and Judaism in terms of which is the dominant religion, which has power in the real world, and which has been continually oppressed by the other, and (3) (related to 2) the fact that the “heresies”/Mormonism do not have at their center a view of Christianity anything resembling or analogous to the invalidation and denigration of Judaism, or the view of Judaism as the negative “other” against which Christianity defines itself as the positive, that lie at the center of Christianity. In other words, other than chronologically, the analogy simply doesn’t work.

  35. Shoshie
    Shoshie November 8, 2011 at 12:24 pm |

    Q Grrl: I think of ourselves as questions that the universe is asking in order to learn more about itself. Like: what do I learn about myself if I create *this* type of human or *this* type of human, and on and on. Every experience is valid because every experience is an answer to some question.

    Wow, that is a really cool way of looking at people.

  36. Donna L
    Donna L November 8, 2011 at 12:29 pm |

    Given the last several hundred years of Christian-Jewish relations, no, I don’t think it’s as much theirs as it is anybody’s. Once you spend centuries using the 100-page sequel you wrote as an excuse to murder Jews, you lose any moral right you may have.

    EG, as I’m sure you know, it’s way more than the last several hundred years! It’s getting close to 2,000 at this point.

    T. Smythe, I don’t know what the word “appropriation” could possibly describe other than what Christianity did with the Hebrew Bible — not simply adopting it on its own terms and adding to it , but completely distorting its meaning and using it for the specific purpose of invalidating the religion it belonged to. If you want to read a book written from the viewpoint of a believing (liberal) Catholic that goes through all of this in great detail, I would recommend “Constantine’s Sword,” by James Carroll. Because it’s written from that viewpoint, there’s some of it I really can’t relate to (in other words, the completely positive view of Jesus himself, which reminds me a little of all those devoted Marxist-Leninists who still admire Lenin and blame Stalin for everything that went wrong), but it’s still well worth reading.

  37. CBrachyrhynchos
    CBrachyrhynchos November 8, 2011 at 1:29 pm |

    I’ll agree with skepticism of “Judeo-Christian.” The Christian world spent most of the last 1500 years marginalizing and persecuting Jewish thought, and now claims some common ecumenical understanding? It also doesn’t help that I find the ecumenical use of that phrase to often accompany copious amounts of bashing spiritual outsiders.

    Microbiology caused me to loose faith in Wicca. The biological world is too weird for human notions of gender to be spiritual archetypes underlying all of the universe.

  38. Mark Silk
    Mark Silk November 8, 2011 at 1:43 pm |

    Re: my discussion of “the Judeo-Christian tradition.” I am in fact Jewish, so I guess I’m entitled to be annoyed at some Jewish attacks on the term. Anyone interested in a more parliamentary discussion of the history of usage can look at my old (1984) article in American Quarterly: “Notes on the Judeo-Christian Tradition in America.” For the record, while Christian conservatives frequent use the term to describe their own “biblical” values, I’ve never seen in employed as an exercise in supersessionism.

  39. Tim
    Tim November 8, 2011 at 1:56 pm |

    Funny cartoons and amazing information in the links; that slug video was something. Haven’t read the article it was in response too yet, so I don’t know — but I suspect they would just wave it off by saying that what God set up for slugs and giraffes is OK for them but we’re talking about what God set up for humans.

    The Judeo-Christian thing: I admit never giving it much thought, but the objections ring true and I’ll probably watch using it anymore. Another one I think is highly dubious is “Abrahamic faiths,” meant to include Judaism, Christianity and Islam. It may not be as common and I first heard it a few years ago. I thought, whoa, I wonder what Muslims would think about that term? I realize they recognize Abraham as an important figure, but would they like Islam referred to as an “Abrahamic faith”? No idea; I haven’t had time to research it.

  40. Roxy
    Roxy November 8, 2011 at 2:34 pm |

    Hey all, this is the cartoonist here. Thank you for the linkage! I’m glad you guys got a kick out of the comics.

    I’m working on Part II right now, and it should be up by the end of the week.

  41. Mark Silk
    Mark Silk November 8, 2011 at 2:58 pm |

    As for Abrahamic, Tim, that usage in fact originates in Muslim discourse. It is the Muslims themselves who choose to trace their lineage back to Abraham via Ishmael, and thus they see themselves as inheritors (the true inheritors, of course) of the
    Abrahamic revelation. What you’ll find is that, today, Muslims are more eager to embrace “Abrahamic” as a common descriptor than either Christians or Jews.

  42. EG
    EG November 8, 2011 at 4:09 pm |

    Donna L: in other words, the completely positive view of Jesus himself, which reminds me a little of all those devoted Marxist-Leninists who still admire Lenin and blame Stalin for everything that went wrong

    DonnaL, did you meet my parents, circa 1985 or something? But yes. I believe there’s a phrase, something like “By their fruits shall ye know them,” that may be applicable here…

    Mark Silk: I am in fact Jewish, so I guess I’m entitled to be annoyed at some Jewish attacks on the term.

    You can be as annoyed as you like. Your Judaism doesn’t mean anybody else has to find your annoyance or your way of phrasing it good.

    Mark Silk: What you’ll find is that, today, Muslims are more eager to embrace “Abrahamic” as a common descriptor than either Christians or Jews.

    I’m not sure about that. The people I know who prefer “Abrahamic” are specifically politically left-liberal conscious Jews and Christians. I prefer it myself, because it doesn’t carry the contemporary ring of “Oh, OK, you Jews are OK [for now], but at least we can all agree that we don’t like those dirty Muslims over there, right?”

  43. attackfish
    attackfish November 8, 2011 at 4:41 pm |

    EG: Kind of fitting, given that one of the things we were criticizing was the way his essay treated Jewish people as a monolith…

  44. T. Smythe
    T. Smythe November 8, 2011 at 5:00 pm |

    I should clarify that I use the term Old Testament when writing about the books in a specifically Christian context because that’s the term that Christians have used historically to refer to that text and because it accurately describes Christians’ belief about the relationship between the two halves of their holy book. (though obviously beliefs on the nature of that relationship vary widely even within Christianity)

    I agree that nobody should be using the term OT in a Jewish context, or as a neutral term in, say, a Western Civ or literature course. “The Old Testament” is obviously not a neutral term; its point of view is explicitly Christian. If that’s all that’s meant by denigration of the term, I agree with you.

    If you’re actually suggesting that we should call the Christian OT something else when we’re actually talking about it as part of the Christian Bible, however, I think that’s beyond ridiculous. On the flip side, I probably wouldn’t call the first five books of the shared scriptures (I like that as a neutral term*, whoever suggested it above – I think I’ll adopt it!) the “Torah” outside of a Jewish context, but the notion that the use of the term Torah within Judaism suggests that it should be “law” for everyone would be blatantly silly.

    *though come to think of it, “scripture” itself isn’t usually a 100% neutral term in this context, is it?

  45. CBrachyrhynchos
    CBrachyrhynchos November 8, 2011 at 5:08 pm |

    I’ll admit, I’m not very fond of “Abrahamic” either because it’s frequently invoked to rally around the book, in contrast to us filthy heathens who will bring about the fall of civilization with our evil secular ways. I’m just in a bit of a bad mood about this having seen yet another screed denying that I can have moral values.

  46. T. Smythe
    T. Smythe November 8, 2011 at 5:09 pm |

    DonnaL, I’ve read Constantine’s Sword. I’m certainly not denying the church’s long and bloody history of anti-Semitism. “Appropriation” is still entirely the wrong term to my ear, however; it implies monolithic ownership of a text that belongs – originally and without question – to multiple traditions. “Revisionism” might work better.

  47. Marlene
    Marlene November 8, 2011 at 5:28 pm |

    Holy Crap!

    (Don’t forget to tip your waitress. I’ll be here all week.)

  48. Donna L
    Donna L November 8, 2011 at 5:33 pm |

    T. Smythe:

    I agree that nobody should be using the term OT in a Jewish context , or as a neutral term in, say , a Western Civ or literature course. “The Old Testament” is obviously not a neutral term; its point of view is explicitly Christian. If that’s all that’s meant by denigration of the term, I agree with you.

    That is, in fact, essentially what I meant; it’s not really my place to tell Christians what terminology to use in their internal theological discussions, as inherently pejorative as that particular term may be. But using it in ecumenical (interfaith) discussions obviously isn’t productive (never mind in a Jewish context), and my major issue, of course, is with its almost universal use in general discourse, even though most people who use it — including a lot of Jewish people — probably have no idea what “Old” and “New” Testament are actually intended to mean, and think the terms are simply chronological in nature. Which is why I try to say something whenever I see people casually referring to the Old Testament, particularly in a progressive feminist venue such as here or at Shakesville where I’m not particularly likely to get a hostile reaction.

  49. Donna L
    Donna L November 8, 2011 at 6:01 pm |

    CBrachyrhynchos:

    I’ll admit, I’m not very fond of “Abrahamic” either because it’s frequently invoked to rally around the book, in contrast to us filthy heathens who will bring about the fall of civilization with our evil secular ways. I’m just in a bit of a bad mood about this having seen yet another screed denying that I can have moral values.

    Honestly, I’ve heard it used more by people who are very *anti-* the “Abrahamic” religions, as a way of lumping them together before saying how inherently horrible and repulsive and misogynist they all are in every way. Poor guy should have stayed in Ur, assuming he ever existed in the first place, which is highly unlikely.

  50. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig November 8, 2011 at 7:20 pm |

    Li: That video was awesome. Thank you.
    Roxy: Any chance of doing a series on ‘Weird Animal Sex?’

  51. LC
    LC November 8, 2011 at 7:34 pm |

    I first came across “Abrahamic” in a more religious studies context, where it was used primarily as a term describing that the faiths discussed had a common wellspring which you can still detect. (Sort of like calling something an “Indo-European language family”. That’s really still the primary way I’ve ever seen it used, actually.

  52. attackfish
    attackfish November 8, 2011 at 8:17 pm |

    LC: That’s the context I first saw it too.

  53. Shoshie
    Shoshie November 9, 2011 at 12:35 pm |

    Mark Silk: I am in fact Jewish, so I guess I’m entitled to be annoyed at some Jewish attacks on the term.

    Sure. And I’m entitled to disagree with you because…Jews disagree with each other. Frequently. And I still hate the way the term is used here and in pretty much all other discourse that I’ve seen.

  54. Seth Gordon
    Seth Gordon November 10, 2011 at 9:45 am |

    I would also like to co-sign the complaints about the term “Judeo-Christian”. My main objection to the term is that just about every time I see it used, it’s used to label as “Judeo-Christian” something that is substantially more Christian than Jewish. For example, the “Deus Vult” idea that the OP advances may be consistent with some of the more antinomian strains of Christian thought, but less consistent with a whole body of Jewish law and tradition—starting with the commandment of circumcision.

    PS: Would giraffes think that giraffe sex is boring and be fascinated by how humans will mate at any time of the month?

  55. attackfish
    attackfish November 10, 2011 at 10:11 am |

    Seth: This so much. I even hear Christians talk about Heaven, Hell, and salvation in the Judeo-Christian tradition.

  56. EG
    EG November 10, 2011 at 2:58 pm |

    And they never use the term to justify something that would accord with the values I was brought up to regard as Jewish: “It is of vital importance that we make sure that public libraries are well-stocked and open seven days a week, twelve hours a day, at least, and that the teacher-student ratio in our public schools is never worse than one to ten, because of the high value our Judeo-Christian tradition places on study and knowledge!” Nah. It’s always “Gays are bad bad bad.”

  57. Shoshie
    Shoshie November 12, 2011 at 9:26 pm |

    EG: And they never use the term to justify something that would accord with the values I was brought up to regard as Jewish: “It is of vital importance that we make sure that public libraries are well-stocked and open seven days a week, twelve hours a day, at least, and that the teacher-student ratio in our public schools is never worse than one to ten, because of the high value our Judeo-Christian tradition places on study and knowledge!” Nah. It’s always “Gays are bad bad bad.”

    Hah! That would be AWESOME.

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