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09 February 2008 @ 03:18 pm
Just a last word before I leave  
I was raised Jewish and Catholic, until my Jewish father converted to Catholicism and expected me to abandon the Jewish part of my identity along with him. I was forced to attend Catholic services and to be confirmed in the Church, even though I was starting to find the Church politically and religiously stifling. After leaving home, I settled on Quakerism as a religion I could deal with, but have always felt a connection to Judaism as well, because it became part of my identity early in life. Since then, I have felt out of place in both Christian and Jewish circles because I can't feel "completely" one or the other. I've even been quite harshly rejected, often by Jewish groups, because I can't be "part Jewish" and because traditional approaches to Judaism say that 1) I'm not Jewish because my mother wasn't, and 2) Judaism is the One Way and is incompatible with following any other religion, especially not Christianity.

When I saw the last post, my first response was to agree that praying for Jewish conversion is antisemitic, and that we should assume no group is inherently more whiny than the other, so when Jews say they're bothered by something, it should be taken seriously. I later also said that I didn't think ANY ethnic or religious group, including Christianity, was inherently special or kind, and explained that I didn't consider myself "special" as an ethnic Jew or as a Christian. This was in response to someone saying that the Jews he knew were nice to him; I wanted to point out that out-group members are often a lot nicer to you than in-group members, it's not something special about that group but in fact a result of the fact that NO group is special. It bothers me almost as much when someone says "Jews are nice" as when someone says "Jews are mean." Apparently this was enough for a moderator to accuse me of being a Dominionist in disguise, even though my profile suggests otherwise, even though I said that I didn't think Christianity was special, even though I explicitly denied it. Apparently only Dominionists think that no group is special.

How ironic is it that a comment, originally motivated by someone acting surprised that "outsiders" like Jews would be kinder to them than Christians, would lead to this. I learned from my life that my "own people," whatever they are, are not likely to be particularly kind to me. This includes Jews, Christians, and, apparently, even others who are recovering from religious abuse. There are Dominionists that have been kinder to me than this community.

Considering my original comment that people should take it seriously when a group gets offended by your behavior, it's also ironic that, when I complained that I (and most Jews) considered the concept of "essential Jewishness," when employed by non-Jews, antisemitic, I was ignored. And "schooled" on what it meant to be Jewish, by someone with only second-hand knowledge of the religion. Because apparently members of the Jewish community have no right to say what they consider offensive without being labeled the Enemy.

I have no safe spaces. I have no home. The conservative Jewish community ensured that, the Roman Catholic community ensured that, my own family ensured that, and now this community is as well.
 
 
 
SwissCeltswisscelt on February 9th, 2008 09:01 pm (UTC)
Comment from the moderator in question
You're whining. Please stop. My actions were not meant to be persecutory in any way. Had I intended to harm you, it would have been much easier to ban you than to attempt to cool us both off (in an aptly metaphorical sense) by freezing the thread.

Allow me to observe that you appear to be motivated by emotion. That's not a bad thing; it can in fact be a very good thing. To that end, though, please realize that I react differently than perhaps most people when I see emotional appeals. I've noted elsewhere that I don't "do" emotional appeals. It's a personality flaw of mine that I react rather poorly to emotional appeals: Instead of countering with reason, I fail in the attempt, as my own emotions tend to be triggered by the appeal. And that's seldom a pretty sight.

But that's not to say that I'm wrong to do so; not always, anyway. Frequently, I've been able to cut through the bullshit arguments of others (speaking here of previous scenarios, not this one) after being triggered by the emotional appeal. I think you'll find that trait to be unusual among most people, but somewhat common among walkaways. We know the appeals Dominionists use, and we try to counter with reason... but being human ourselves, we often react emotionally.

That's why I froze the thread we were on. It was to prevent myself from rash action, but also to maintain my stance without caving in. It surely wasn't to handcuff myself.

You will, of course, do as you may. But know that the door has not been closed to you. I promised you I wouldn't do that personally.
one of those feathery maniacssammka on February 9th, 2008 09:17 pm (UTC)
Re: Comment from the moderator in question
I am appealing to emotion here so that you can see how hurtful it is to do what you were doing. A quick look at my profile and my public entries would have shown you what my beliefs really are. A reasonable look at what I was saying in that thread, including my first comment, would have shown you what my beliefs really are.

But even while you acknowledged that you might be wrong, you labeled me a Dominionist, and attacked me as if I were one, without regard to the harm you'd be doing if I wasn't.

I believe you froze that thread to get the last word. If you had simply wanted to prevent yourself from rash action you'd have frozen the thread without further comment. Instead, you had to continue to attack me, and THEN freeze the thread.

Again, it's ironic that you'd call me "whiny" int eh context of the last post, in which Jews who complained that something was offensive were labeled as "whiners." The Roman Catholic church also probably would say that it wasn't meaning to be persecutory.
SwissCeltswisscelt on February 9th, 2008 09:37 pm (UTC)
Re: Comment from the moderator in question
I am appealing to emotion here so that you can see how hurtful it is to do what you were doing.

And as I said, I react poorly to emotional appeals. You yourself noted that I was reacting poorly in the previous thread. Did you think my reaction would change by bringing the conversation to a new thread?

The rational side of me really is trying to acknowledge your pain. But frankly, the emotional side of me-- the part of me that reacted poorly in the first place-- is reading nothing but, "You non-Christians are EEEVIL! Your Gods and cultures are DEAD! Come back to our churches and repent of your wicked ways, for your destruction is at hand!" You wouldn't be the first person to say that to me, in varying degrees of veiled language. So in light of that, is it really a good idea to appeal to my emotions here?

But even while you acknowledged that you might be wrong, you labeled me a Dominionist, and attacked me as if I were one, without regard to the harm you'd be doing if I wasn't.

Not entirely true. I regarded the harm I'd be doing by doing nothing in the case that you are. Weighing that harm against the harm I'd be doing to you, I decided (as best I could) that the harm I'd do to you would be better than the harm I'd do to the community.

I believe you froze that thread to get the last word. If you had simply wanted to prevent yourself from rash action you'd have frozen the thread without further comment. Instead, you had to continue to attack me, and THEN freeze the thread.

Pish. Freezing a thread can be undone by moderators, which means not only could one of the other moderators undo the action but I could just as easily have responded to the other forks of the thread in which you DID get the last word. Moreover, I could also have deleted this entry, banned you from this journal, and continued the argument on your personal journal... all three of which catvincent did when I was banned from dark_christian. Trust me, I've been on the receiving end of moderator power games before, and that's the last thing I want to do to someone else.

Again, it's ironic that you'd call me "whiny" int eh context of the last post, in which Jews who complained that something was offensive were labeled as "whiners." The Roman Catholic church also probably would say that it wasn't meaning to be persecutory.

Spare us the invocation of Godwin's law, please.
one of those feathery maniacssammka on February 9th, 2008 09:43 pm (UTC)
Re: Comment from the moderator in question
Whether you acknowledge it or not, you are trying the same kind of appeal to irrationality: you have seen Dominionists invade the community before, and you're willing to ignore what I've explicitly said about my beliefs and substitute for them what you think I'm saying, even though I've explicitly disclaimed it.

And you know, when someone isn't actually referring to Hitler, Godwin's law doesn't apply. There's just a certain parallel to be made when the entry is about people who complain being labeled whiny, and then I complain, and am labeled whiny instead of having my concerns and feelings taken seriously.

Whatever, I'm out.
SwissCeltswisscelt on February 9th, 2008 09:59 pm (UTC)
Re: Comment from the moderator in question
Whether you acknowledge it or not, you are trying the same kind of appeal to irrationality:

I called it an emotional appeal. You're the one who said it's irrational. We can go the emotional route if you want, but as I've said before it isn't pretty.

you have seen Dominionists invade the community before

In point of fact, I've seen Dominionists invade communities before. Not (just) LiveJournal communities, but physical communities. Just to clarify, in case you meant to imply that my fear of Dominionism is "irrational".

you're willing to ignore what I've explicitly said about my beliefs and substitute for them what you think I'm saying, even though I've explicitly disclaimed it.

That's because (and I've readily admitted such) I sense a huge disconnect between what you've explicitly disclaimed and what I believe you've said implicitly. Or, to use the old canard, "Methinks thou protesteth too much."

And you know, when someone isn't actually referring to Hitler, Godwin's law doesn't apply.

Oh no, it still applies... it's just that we haven't yet crossed the threshold of reductio ad Hitlerum. In any case, you made this a new entry. Thus the range of issues will be different.

and then I complain, and am labeled whiny instead of having my concerns and feelings taken seriously.

Is that why I'm not discussing this with you? Oh wait, that's right... I am.

Whatever, I'm out.

And still, the door remains open. Funny thing about playing tug-of-war with someone who just stands there feeding rope: You might find yourself out on your ass. Meanwhile, I'm still standing here giving you whatever rope you say you need.
Christinekisekileia on February 10th, 2008 03:50 pm (UTC)
Re: Comment from the moderator in question
swisscelt, I'm sorry...but I'm going to be honest here. I think you overreacted. Please don't take this personally, because I don't want to personally attack you; this is just how I saw the situation...

I read sammka's posts multiple times, and I didn't see anything that seemed to me to point to dominionism. When sammka said that "tribalism is dead", it honestly looked to me like she was saying this due to being wary of different groups treating their own as worth more than others, and simply did not understand the nature and value of the support that many people get from connecting to others from their cultural community. I felt the dialogue on that subject was worthwhile, since bob_bowers and you were educating sammka about the merits of connection with one's own ancestral culture, though I do think sammka could definitely have been more receptive. You and bob_bowers have a perspective on this that has certainly educated me since I came to this community, and I think it's worth giving others a chance to be educated.

The impression I got from "Claiming Jewish heritage is similarly not denying Christianity: Christianity is, in fact, an offshoot of Judaism, and the parts that are not Jewish (like failing to celebrate Jewish holidays or keep kosher) basically come from the Paulist program of not enforcing those restrictions on the Greek converts (restrictions that were still supposed to apply to the Jewish converts)" was that this was sammka's personal view on the Judaism/Christianity combination, not that she was trying to impose this view on others. Her repeated statements of being a universalist seem to me to confirm that impression. (*Edited here to get rid of a sentence I started and didn't finish.)

I really do see why your buttons were pushed. What you were reading looked too much like Messianic Judaism for your comfort, and it also really offended you with the "tribalism" comment (which looks to me like it was made primarily out of ignorance, rather than intent to harm, and was originally meant to simply affirm the likelihood of situations like bob_bowers being helped by Jewish professors). I recognize that you are trying to safeguard this community. But I hope you can also understand that anyone who has been harmed by dominionism would be extremely, extremely hurt by being labelled as one of the enemy. I'm sure you would be. I don't think very many wounded people would not have responded emotionally to that.

...Does that make sense? I mean, maybe I'm naive when it comes to steeplejacking, but if sammka isn't dominionist--which seems highly probable to me--then reacting the way you did probably caused a lot of harm, and I think we in woundedwarriors should take care not to further wound anyone who comes among us for support.

I know you still hold the beliefs you hold and are highly suspicious of sammka because your buttons got pushed, but I hope that you can read this post and any others she makes in the future with an open mind and allow for the possibility that she may not be a dangerous person. I'm glad that you didn't ban her, but I hope that you can also treat her with openness and respect.

Edited at 2008-02-10 03:59 pm (UTC)
SwissCeltswisscelt on February 10th, 2008 07:26 pm (UTC)
Re: Comment from the moderator in question
*nods* Thank you. There is much wisdom in your comment.
Michigan Blackhawk: kill bill--the bridenesmith on February 9th, 2008 09:12 pm (UTC)
From my outsider perspective, you responded to rational arguments and civil discourse by flying off the handle. I come to this conclusion after reading your comments, the responses, and your responses to those responses. These subjects are emotional ones for many, but it does not mean that discussions cannot be had. It does not mean that people here, with differing experiences and knowledge, are not allowed to speak their minds and yes--even challenge some of the things you say. The rest of the community has as much right to say those things as you, and frankly your accusation that this community has ensured that you will have "no home" is melodramatic, absurd, and a little insulting. The flounce is also unnecessary and melodramatic.

"Safe space" does not mean "a place where no one disagrees with you, ever." If that's what you desire, then a friends-only journal is probably your safest bet.

one of those feathery maniacssammka on February 9th, 2008 09:19 pm (UTC)
I don't think I "flew off the handle" until I was labeled a Messianic Jew. Until then, I may have been arguing passionately, but I did not feel upset in any way. And I think I kind of had a right to, after I'd been accused, without basis, of being a Dominionist trying to infiltrate the group. Can you point to where I lost it, if it was before then?
Michigan Blackhawknesmith on February 9th, 2008 09:24 pm (UTC)
When you are accused of something that you know isn't true, saying "This is bullshit" and throwing out perjoratives and the all-caps is never a way to prove your point. For me you lost the claim to the high ground when you threw out "Tribalism is dead" to someone who took the same offense as you did being labelled a Messianic Jew. The qualification you added was a little late.

one of those feathery maniacssammka on February 9th, 2008 09:32 pm (UTC)
I apologized, immediately, when someone took offense. And qualified my statement, immediately. Nobody has apologized to me for calling me a Dominionist.

This is a group for people who have been hurt by Dominionism. Calling someone a Dominionist is obviously going to anger someone a lot, especially calling someone that in that kind of hostile manner. I felt attacked, and in fact I WAS attacked, referred to as "vile," and told that I didn't belong in this community. I actually did try to contact the other moderator but got no immediate response, so I kept responding. I have a right to have felt attacked and I don't think anyone should be surprised that I responded the way I did. Should I have been calmer? Probably, but I also think that my response was completely natural, and that the provocation was unnecessary.
SwissCeltswisscelt on February 9th, 2008 09:39 pm (UTC)
Messianic Judaism is what I called vile. If you consider that a personal attack, then perhaps I was not wrong in my assessment.
one of those feathery maniacssammka on February 9th, 2008 09:44 pm (UTC)
Well, you also called me a Messianic Jew. So, by the transitive property...
SwissCeltswisscelt on February 9th, 2008 10:05 pm (UTC)
...yes? What, exactly?
one of those feathery maniacssammka on February 10th, 2008 07:08 am (UTC)
If you call someone x, and then call x "vile," you have called that person vile, and they are entitled to take it as an insult whether or not they actually are x.
SwissCeltswisscelt on February 10th, 2008 07:07 pm (UTC)
First off, welcome back.

Secondly, you're doing the same thing I was doing: Reading into what was actually written. I do consider Messianic Judaism to be vile, it's true... for the same reasons I consider Dominionism to be vile. As for you, well, I don't know you. Thus even if you are a Messianic Jew, I don't know enough about you to call you vile.

If the shoe fits, though, wear it. I'm not going to apologize for calling Messianic Judaism vile, even if you feel hurt in the process.
Michigan Blackhawknesmith on February 9th, 2008 09:42 pm (UTC)
I agree, and that's a matter to be resolved with the other mod and the community owner. I have no stake in such a discussion. However, from what I observed, your blanket qualifications about Jews, based just as much on anecdata as the responses, started the ball rolling and unfortunately the emotions on both sides took over and turned it into an avalanche.

It's been my experience, however, that flounce posts like this rarely make anything better and often lead to more problems.

one of those feathery maniacssammka on February 9th, 2008 09:47 pm (UTC)
It made me feel better.
Michigan Blackhawknesmith on February 9th, 2008 09:57 pm (UTC)
Well, as long as it makes someone feel better.

one of those feathery maniacssammka on February 10th, 2008 07:11 am (UTC)
Also, if I said anything about what Judaism is about, I consistently repeated that I was talking about mainstream Judaism. I don't think being raised in a religion, which I also consistently repeated that I was, counts as "anecdotal" evidence. It's offensive to tell someone who actually grew up in a religion what that religion is about, and assume that your opinion is as good as theirs.
Michigan Blackhawk: kill bill--gogonesmith on February 10th, 2008 05:30 pm (UTC)
The only problem with that is that it rests on the assumption that someone who is raised in a religion is automatically more knowledgeable, and that isn't true. One can be raised in a faith and have far less knowledge about the history or specifics of scriptures or traditions than someone who has studied the religion intensely. And frankly it's a little arrogant to assume that just because you were raised Jewish, then your authority supercedes everyone else's.

I was raised a Lutheran Christian and later joined the Episcopal church, and I know lifelong athiests who know far more about the Christian faith than I do because they've read and studied more than I ever did.

EDIT: Just to be completely clear, I'm not condoning any dismissals or "you don't know what you're talking about." My point is that being raised in a religion does not make one a de facto expert. There will always be someone else who knows more and has read more--but that's true for everything.



Edited at 2008-02-10 05:39 pm (UTC)
one of those feathery maniacssammka on February 10th, 2008 05:42 pm (UTC)
It's still not "just as anecdotal." His claim to expertise was "having talked to Jewish people at length." Not intensive study of the religion. I've talked to Jewish people at length all my life. They're my family and community. I would never dare to tell other people what their religion was all about unless I'd spent a lot more time learning about it than simply "talking to others at length." If my understanding conflicted with theirs, I'd qualify and say "the people that I've talked to all said...."

If it helps, I also ran pretty much everything I said by other Jewish people. The guy is just wrong. I also felt particularly provoked by the fact that not only did he start schooling me me on my own religion, but he also assumed, simply from my use of the word "chosen," even in combination with my identification with the religion, that I understood it in the "slanderous" way in which it is "generally understood," whatever that is, instead of the way that Jews actually understand it. He was actually mostly correct about how Jews actually understand it, it's just that he was wrong in that 1) it's still not a value-free term, and 2) when your birthright is a solemn responsibility, that counts as "chosen" for the purposes of what I was talking about.
Michigan Blackhawk: kill bill--gogonesmith on February 10th, 2008 05:49 pm (UTC)
Well, I don't claim to know the particulars of your discussion because I know extremely little about Judaism. The problem with discussions like these is religion is very interpretive, and even one faith has many different subsects who will interpret things differently, so even "talking to other Jewish people" doesn't mean one person is right over the other. I can talk to "many Christian people" about a subject, but if I speak only to Baptists, then the answers might still be "wrong" to Methodists or Lutherans. Which means that one person's "understanding" will still be "wrong" to another person.

It all comes down to who is the final authority, and it's never one's narrow experiences with just a few people. This goes for both sides.

one of those feathery maniacssammka on February 10th, 2008 06:07 pm (UTC)
I don't have "narrow experiences with just a few people."

Also, mainstream Judaism, in America, has only three movements: Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform. Orthodox and Conservative Judaism are pretty easy to characterize because while groups may vary in the details of how they interpret law and theology, on a basic point like "what does it mean to be the chosen people?" and "Is G-d the only god?" they are overwhelmingly unanimous. Reform Judaism is harder to characterize but still I'd say the vast majority of Reform Jewish people agree on this point as well. This is a really basic characteristic of the religion, and just as Baptists, Calvinists, Catholics, Lutherans, and Methodists all believe that there's one God (or trinity) and Jesus died for the sins of mankind, pretty much every Jewish tradition holds that there is one God and the Jews are his chosen people, whatever you end up deciding that means (some, for instance, would say that God could make covenants with other groups and that Jews are therefore not uniquely chosen, some say that they're "chosen" but have lost God's protection by breaking the covenant, some say that they're "chosen" and thus have the responsibility of acting as an example to others, etc.).

And like I said in the threads, there are Jewish pagans (and Jewish Universalists and Jewish atheists), but Jewish paganism is so marginal to the religion that you simply can't take their views and use them to characterize "Judaism," any more than I can use the views of Christian pagans to characterize "Christianity." You're way more likely to find a shul that caters to Jewish atheists than one that caters to Jewish pagans. This is why I confined my approach to mainstream Judaism, you know, the kind that the vast majority of practicing Jews follow.

You're really stretching to find something wrong with my arguments here.
one of those feathery maniacssammka on February 10th, 2008 06:09 pm (UTC)
You could find pretty much all that I've said on Wikipedia.
one of those feathery maniacssammka on February 10th, 2008 06:09 pm (UTC)
Or any web site about Judaism.
SwissCeltswisscelt on February 10th, 2008 07:44 pm (UTC)
Sammka, what did you mean by this comment?

"(even though Jews, ironically, think that paganism is incredibly wrong)"

Seems to me that you were not merely asserting your own knowledge of Judaism. It seems that you were going beyond that, and insinuating that no Jew would have anything to do with Pagans. But I'd like to read what you meant by that.
one of those feathery maniacssammka on February 10th, 2008 05:54 pm (UTC)
Like I said, not applicable here, and there was no reason for anyone to think it is. You said that my experiences were "just as anecdotal" as merely having talked to some Jewish people at some point. That's not true.
Michigan Blackhawknesmith on February 9th, 2008 09:45 pm (UTC)
And for the record, I did not see anywhere where you--you, directly, as a person--were called vile. I'm sorry, but your comments are frankly beginning to sound very much like the words of someone just LOOKING for ways in which they are persecuted.

(Deleted comment)
one of those feathery maniacssammka on February 9th, 2008 09:22 pm (UTC)
Thank you.

There are Jewish spaces that will let you be part of the community regardless of the marriage. They are a little bit more hard to find. I hope that you find a place that accepts you.
SwissCeltswisscelt on February 9th, 2008 09:40 pm (UTC)
I don't know who deleted the comment above, nor do I know what the comment stated. Please note that it was not me.
crumblingredsky on February 10th, 2008 01:08 am (UTC)
Wow. i just got to this community and i'm sad to see so much anger and sorrow.

i know my opinion wasn't asked for; if you don't want it, feel free to delete this. But having read the entry in question and all its replies, Sammka, i would be just as upset and hurt as you are.

It does seem like Swisscelt believes he/she is doing the right thing and trying to hurt the fewest people possible, and that's always tough. However, he/she really seems to have done a great deal of emotional damage by accusing you, and in a community i thought was a safe space! i definitely understand why you feel threatened, and i wanted to express sorrow for that.

Swisscelt, i get that you probably feel like Sammka could be a threat to this community, and you probably acted in what you percieved as this community's best interests. But if even an outsider can see that Sammka's unlikely to be a threat... He/she did seem to be quite sincere (regardless of flouncing, which is never great). Maybe you should reconsider?

Again, i'm sorry if i stuck my nose where it doesn't belong. i'm just sorry to see so much pain in a community that exists because people are already in pain.
SwissCeltswisscelt on February 10th, 2008 01:25 am (UTC)
What shall I reconsider?

I ask in all honesty. I can only take responsibility for what I've said and done. I've done nothing but freeze a thread that was getting out of hand (by BOTH of us, as I said), and I shall not apologize for what I said because... well, frankly, I meant it. And by that, I mean I meant it as I have written it, not as it may or may not be interpreted by others.

Had I been a member, and not a moderator, I doubt this would be an issue. I'd have been called a big meanie by some combination of members and moderators, and that would be that. At most, I would have been the one to be banned, and so long as the moderators didn't make it a power trip, I would have been fine with it.

But I cannot let go of the fact that I *am* a moderator. Nor can I let go of the fact that I am human, and that I am subject to the same foibles as anyone else. To that end, I could not-- and CANNOT-- just back down. I'm not omniscient, and because I'm not omniscient I cannot say that I am in the wrong here. I'm not omnipotent, and because I'm not omnipotent I cannot just make this all go away. As you said, I *do* believe I was doing the right thing in trying to hurt the fewest people possible. I even pulled some punches, where in an earlier, rasher age I might have gone full bore.

So in light of that, what can I reconsider? What can I undo, or unsay? sammka is not banned; I've repeatedly guaranteed that I would not ban her. She is as free to return as the rest of us.
crumblingredsky on February 10th, 2008 01:41 am (UTC)
Hmm... i see what you're saying. And i'm glad you haven't banned her--i believe that's the right thing to do.

i suppose, although that's a hard question to answer (i'm not sure what i meant, now), i mostly mean that i hope you don't still think she's on the attack. i mean, i'm pretty clear-headed and a definite outsider on this (got to this community very recently from my friend kisekileia), and from all i can see, she really just meant something completely different.

Ugh, i just realized that you might think something awful about me like maybe if sammka really is recruiting, she got me to post this and try to garner sympathy. i'd understand if you thought that, because i know you're being really careful with this community, and i'm new and unknown and all, but i'm sorry if you do, because it's not true.
SwissCeltswisscelt on February 10th, 2008 02:20 am (UTC)
You haven't said anything derogatory about those who aren't Christians... such as "Tribalism is dead, and should be," or "even though Jews, ironically, think that paganism is incredibly wrong" (which insinuated that Jews and Pagans cannot get along). So although I'm being careful, I'm not being THAT careful. You're good.
crumblingredsky on February 10th, 2008 02:48 am (UTC)
Phew! i would hope not--i'm Jewish. :)
one of those feathery maniacssammka on February 10th, 2008 07:06 am (UTC)
You read the part that I said that. Does it really imply that Jews and Pagans can't even "get along"? I just don't think that mainstream Judaism is as compatible with this person's attitude towards ancestral gods as he thinks it is, so it's strange when he invokes those values to make value judgments about Jews who convert away.

My sister is Asatru. She recently gave birth and I attended my niece's naming ceremony, and was fine, I just couldn't drink the mead or say "hail" when other people said "hail," because I've been slowly rediscovering the Jewish part of my religious heritage and I don't feel like I'm allowed to hail other gods. My Orthodox and Conservative Jewish friends all said they'd have been incredibly uncomfortable going at all.

I'm fuzzy enough that I don't actually think there's a single religious truth (the only way that you really can deal with being raised with more than one religion), so my refusal to hail other gods isn't really a judgment about whether those gods are real, but this is not an attitude shared by the Jewish religious mainstream, I don't think.
SwissCeltswisscelt on February 10th, 2008 08:00 pm (UTC)
Ah, that explains it, thank you.

I just don't think that mainstream Judaism is as compatible with this person's attitude towards ancestral gods as he thinks it is

I think there was a miscommunication there. My point was not that Jews would recognize any other gods... of course not! That's well documented in the Torah, that one does not follow any other gods.

But I've found the general attitude among Jews in my acquaintance is the same as Pagans toward those who either don't believe in any gods, or follow other gods. Many Christians view such people with some amount of alarm, thinking that it's their divine commandment to correct that fatal flaw in the atheist or polytheist immediately. The Jews and Pagans in my acquaintance, however, view such people with considerably more tolerance; at worst thinking that they simply lack the experiences that would lead them to the "correct path".

Messianic Jews are the exception to this. Messianic Jews approach atheists and polytheists with the same alarm as Dominionists. Some Messianics will work to convert non-Christians. Others will only try to convert (non-Messianic) Jews, and treat non-Christian Gentiles as human scum... again, just as Dominionists do.
one of those feathery maniacssammka on February 10th, 2008 10:54 pm (UTC)
You're right, although I'd expand it to say that most Jews not only don't follow other gods, they also don't even believe in other gods. So it's not just an "I have mine, you have yours" kind of attitude. Having been a minority religion for so long, it's just not expedient to act alarmed by people who believe otherwise, though, so the religion has learned to be pretty non-aggressive about imposing such beliefs on others.

The main reason I cared about this is because Jews who, say, decide to follow paganism, are, from what I can tell, denying their "essential Jewishness" just as much as Jews who convert to Christianity while still trying to preserve some sense of Jewish identity for themselves. I might have misunderstood what you meant by "essential Jewishness," and there are different political overtones accompanying conversion to Christianity as opposed to conversion to paganism. But the same people who said they'd have felt really uncomfortable at my sister's ceremony, wouldn't have felt as uncomfortable at a baptism.

So when you attacked Messianic Jews as antisemitic for "denying their essential Judaism," I was upset because 1) I don't believe in "essential Jewishness," above and beyond, you know, just-plain-being-Jewish, 2) I certainly don't believe in "essential Jewishness" if you're using it to impose a moral requirement on Jews to stay Jewish, especially if you're not Jewish yourself, and 3) it's particularly strange to imply that people are morally required to adhere to a religion that more or less condemns your own. Like I said earlier, there are a lot of really good reasons to call Messianic Jews antisemitic, and it distressed me that you'd ignore those in favor of a reason that I consider a pretty bad reason.

More context, maybe: I was told that I was Catholic, regardless of what I believed, and this was used as a reason I couldn't leave the Church, and why I was forced to be confirmed. There are also marginal Jewish groups that openly criticize other Jews who decide that they're atheists and stop following tradition, marry non-Jews, convert away to any other religion, or even follow Reform tradition, and they also often claim that those people are "denying their essential Jewishness." I have friends that have experienced this, and it wasn't too fun. Luckily those groups really are pretty marginal, but even semi-mainstream groups have been known to reach out to relatively secular, non-practicing Jews and then sort of "bring them back into the fold" by encouraging them to be more and more traditionally observant. There needs to be a balance between cultural preservation and infringing on people's rights to follow their own beliefs, and going after people who break from tradition and condemning them seems to me to fall on the wrong side of that line.

Edited at 2008-02-10 11:06 pm (UTC)
SwissCeltswisscelt on February 10th, 2008 11:25 pm (UTC)
You're right, although I'd expand it to say that most Jews not only don't follow other gods, they also don't even believe in other gods.

Very true. They make no real distinction between polytheists and atheists. Those in my acquaintance, though, have treated both with the same kindness.

Having been a minority religion for so long, it's just not expedient to act alarmed by people who believe otherwise, though, so the religion has learned to be pretty non-aggressive about imposing such beliefs on others.

Is it because Judaism is a minority religion, though? I've known a number of American Muslims as well, and their attitude toward dhimmis (Jews and Christians) is quite different than their attitude toward khafir (everyone else). Some can still tolerate khafir, but there is still the distinction in Islam in America that I don't sense among Jews.

The main reason I cared about this is because Jews who, say, decide to follow paganism, are, from what I can tell, denying their "essential Jewishness" just as much as Jews who convert to Christianity while still trying to preserve some sense of Jewish identity for themselves.

That may be. But I'm a Gentile, thus I have no Jewish identity. Moreover, the Jewish Pagans I know do not view themselves as having any privilege or responsibility before G_d. It's that aspect of Jewish identity that Messianics turn on and off where it's convenient.

Which really lies at the base of my complaint here. If someone chooses another religion, that's fine. It's when one demands that their religion be viewed as the only way to be fully human that I have a problem. What makes Messianic Judaism so "vile", in my estimation, is that they do that twice: Once, by proclaiming Jesus as the only way to heaven; and again by proclaiming their Jewish identity as the only culture "God" recognizes.

Having several relatives in the United Church of God, which differs from Messianic Judaism only in that members do not need to show Jewish lineage (well, so long as they're white, anyway :-/ ), the subject is a hot button with me. And for that, I do apologize.
one of those feathery maniacssammka on February 10th, 2008 11:45 pm (UTC)
Is it because Judaism is a minority religion, though? I've known a number of American Muslims as well, and their attitude toward dhimmis (Jews and Christians) is quite different than their attitude toward khafir (everyone else). Some can still tolerate khafir, but there is still the distinction in Islam in America that I don't sense among Jews.

I think for a really long time, Christianity was the main other religion that most Jews had to deal with, and it was an oppressive majority. So Jews adopted a different attitude toward other religions that maybe got extended to polytheists they encountered later on. If you look at their behavior in scriptures, though, when they were just one of a lot of warring tribes, they were pretty aggressive, so this is clearly an artifact of evolution in the religion.

Some Jews do make religious distinctions between Christians/Muslims and "everyone else." For instance, Orthodox and Conservative Jews are not permitted to drink wine that has been touched, at any point in the process, by "idolators." Many interpreting rabbis will say that Christians are not idolators, but polytheists clearly are. Note that they probably are ignoring Muslims here only because Muslims are less likely to be manufacturing wine in the first place. Anyway, it's a diverse religion, some are more tolerant than others. Which was sort of my original point. It's not a "better" or "worse" religion than Christianity. There are tolerant Christians and intolerant Christians, there are tolerant Jews and intolerant Jews, it's just that intolerant Jews generally leave outsiders alone.

Anyway, I'm not really arguing with you here about whether or not Messianic Judaism is a good religion. I know some of them, some are awful, and some are really kind and haven't tried to convert me in any way. Remember also that my father converted to Christianity, had a Jews-For-Jesus phase that was really really awful for me, but is now a pretty normal and sane person and I am touchy about people criticizing him merely for his conversion.

What I still don't get though, is why you said that it was "antisemitic" to deny one's "essential Jewishness." All the reasons you gave here for why Messianic Judaism is bad, I am fine with. But that argument really set me off.
SwissCeltswisscelt on February 11th, 2008 12:01 am (UTC)
What I still don't get though, is why you said that it was "antisemitic" to deny one's "essential Jewishness."

Well, because it would be very antisemitic to suggest, as Messianics do, that one cannot have the promise of Judaism fulfilled without accepting Christ.
one of those feathery maniacssammka on February 11th, 2008 12:36 am (UTC)
That to me sounds a lot different from "denying one's essential Jewishness," but I agree that that's antisemitic.
SwissCeltswisscelt on February 11th, 2008 01:43 am (UTC)
I see the relationship between G-d and man as essential to Judaism. Believe it or not, that's not necessarily a religious thing... and being a Gentile, it's difficult for me to describe. Something about recognizing that man is imperfect, but perfectable.

It's something I see in some Christian sects, but not Dominionism nor Messianic Judaism.
one of those feathery maniacssammka on February 11th, 2008 01:46 am (UTC)
Saying something is essential to Judaism is, to me, different from saying that people have some sort of "essential Jewishness" that they can then deny.
SwissCeltswisscelt on February 11th, 2008 02:11 am (UTC)
I'm not explaining it very well...
Küchenhexe (formerly Zanne Chaos): Moderator - tornadokuchenhexe on March 4th, 2008 03:58 am (UTC)
Reply and apology from the Founder
http://community.livejournal.com/woundedwarriors/46958.html

I want to know what's been going on here. My apologies.