The Tower of Babel, Jews, Progressives, and Conservatives

 

One could certainly imagine a post on the Tower of Babel and Jews, but where do Progressives and Conservatives fit in? Recently I ran across two pieces, one an essay and the other a book, that demonstrated to me in a thoughtful manner that a second Tower of Babel is being built and we are seeing more evidence that not only this country, but the world, is in trouble.

If you are unfamiliar with the story of the Tower of Babel, it is quite short, only 11 verses in Genesis, Chapter 11. G-d determines that the building of the Tower must be stopped, since it bodes a catastrophic future for the people. Those building the Tower intended to reach heaven, and in one sense, bring heaven down to earth. These efforts suggested not only a challenge to G-d’s power, but an arrogance of the builders: they believed with their creativity and prowess they were capable of living a secular existence without G-d’s guidance. Rather than obey G-d, they only needed to pursue their own desires for progress and they would be successful in their efforts. Leon Kass, in his book, The Beginning of Wisdom, explains the emptiness of their goals:

Power and technique are ethically neutral; they can be used both justly and unjustly. Worse, technical prowess, precisely because of its transformative power, creates the illusion that one can do without justice and morality. The omnicompetent city lacking in justice is a menace, both to itself and to the world. Even assuming that the inhabitants wish to be just, where will be builders of Babel find any knowledge of justice, or indeed, any moral or political principle or standard?

G-d recognized the dangers and said:

If , as one people with one language for all, this is how they have begun to act, then nothing that they propose to do will be out of their reach. Let us then, go down and confound their speech there, so that they will not understand one another’s speech!

The source of their problems would have been not only their arrogance, but also in their shared language, which allowed them to unite in their efforts to build; ironically, the closer they came to heaven, the more distant they were from G-d. In the meantime, the people also ignored G-d’s direction to populate the world, and chose instead to stay where they were, to seek comfort and to pursue their own self-serving aspirations.

So how does this story speak to today’s Progressivism? Progressivism claims many goals, but for the purpose of this post I am focusing on its insistence on an uncontested universal state. From the time Progressivism began, a major goal has been to eliminate nation states and unite in a world government. The European Union is a prime example of these efforts. In today’s world, I would suggest that a “shared language” refers to the common ideology that Progressives share.

In a First Things article, the author, Shalom Carmy, gives a few examples of the dangers of a universal vision for the Jews in particular, and the advantages of a disunited world. He describes the reasoning of 14th Century scholar, Rabbi Nissim of Gerona who explained how a national lack of unity saved the Jews:

…the lack of unity among the nations of the world has allowed Jews to escape persecution, going sometimes from Muslim countries to Christian ones, and vice versa. The desire for political unity is not inherently sinful, but its consequences in a corrupt world are deplorable. God was acting benevolently when he fragmented the human race into many languages and peoples.

He also shared how a universal government would harm the Jewish community, explaining the ideas of Rabbi Naftali Zyi Berlin, head of a Yeshiva in 19th-century Lithuania:

For R. Berlin, the desire for unity is itself the cause of persecution. Universal government can’t permit individuals and groups to remove themselves from the collective. There can be no tolerance of loyalty to ideas at variance from those propagated by the central government. Thus the drive toward unity necessitates persecution and ultimately justifies murder.

In recent years we have seen attacks on Jewish requirements for slaughtering animals to observe kosher laws, as well as protests for the ritual slaughter of a chicken at Yom Kippur. Regulations have also been proposed for outlawing infant circumcision, which would essentially render Jewish practice illegal.

Finally, Mr. Carmy adds another concern:

Then there is a broader worry. Progressivism has a strong universalistic trajectory. It also tends to be hostile to traditional religion. Here, R. Berlin’s worries come to the fore. It’s not hard to imagine a tightly knit European polity undertaking aggressive means to secure the universal triumph of progressive ideals. Jews and others whose religious practices are deemed “unprogressive” are likely to feel the pressure.

Judaism is not the only group at risk. We have seen Christians being attacked on many levels as well. And since the most Conservative communities within these religions are the people who are most sharply focused in the sights of Progressives, Conservatives (religious or not) are high on their list for condemnation. Anyone who doesn’t conform to Progressive practices and ideals are at risk.

So Progressivism continues to strengthen as it builds on its arrogance, exclusivity, intolerance and hatred in a modern ethic of the Tower of Babel. Who or what will stop them? As more freedoms are condemned and more restrictions are enacted, will their Tower continue to grow? Are these continued efforts signaling a slow, laborious but continual construction of a modern Tower of Babel?

Is there no one who can bring them down?

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  1. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    They hate half the nation. Hate us intensely. It will come down when they make their final push.

    • #1
  2. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    There are two religions that believe that killing a non-believer is justified: Islam, and Progressivism.

    • #2
  3. cdor Member
    cdor
    @cdor

    Bucking human nature is a losing proposition. I believe Man is innately individualistic. That is precisely the problem with socialism. It destroys, or at least tries to destroy, man’s natural desire to be free and unique. That is also the advantage of capitalism. Far from perfect, it is the best system devised to allow for human success. Unfortunately, capitalism is an amoral system. As such it requires the added layer of an educated and moral society.

    Susan you are always providing subjects of deep thought. Thank you.

    • #3
  4. Nanda Panjandrum Member
    Nanda Panjandrum
    @

    I’m working on the 2 Chr. 7:14 strategy, daily, SQ:

    [I]f then my people, upon whom my name has been pronounced, humble themselves and pray, and seek my face and turn from their evil ways, I will hear them from heaven and pardon their sins and heal their land.

    Bibles, Harper. NABRE, HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

    • #4
  5. JosePluma Thatcher
    JosePluma
    @JosePluma

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):
    They hate half the nation. Hate us intensely. It will come down when they make their final push.

    We still have most of the guns.

    • #5
  6. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    I always thought the Tower of Babel story was about dominion. The heavens belonged to God. Humanity defied our limitations. So God showed us just how small and powerless we are in comparison. Then the Lord confused our communication to protect us from ourselves, at least long enough to reflect on what we had done wrong.

    But that’s one of the miracles of the scriptures. After a lifetime of personal study and generations of collective study, it’s ever new. You provide good food for thought, Susan.

    I’m reminded of the NBC building in New York. Directly across from a cathedral, the blocky tower stretches high into the sky. It is adorned with a meaningless hodgepodge of mythological figures that are both contradictory to each other and irrelevant to modern secular beliefs. It’s the barren notion of multiculturalism in an awfully big nutshell.

    New York, Babylon — the world hasn’t changed. Faith is outcast in the wealthiest cities as pleasure takes its place behind the altar.

    • #6
  7. Hypatia Inactive
    Hypatia
    @Hypatia

    The Sunday school version of the Babel story is that people were arrogant in presuming  to reach Heaven.  But it’s heaven with a small H; there was no belief in a Heaven for human souls in the sky then.

    And God  is scared! He says: “Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language, and this they begin to do.and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.  Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech”. Gen 11: 6,7.

    It’s like in the Eden story, where God expresses horror that after the apple, “the man is become as one of US!”  That’s why Adam  and Eve are driven out–if they had also eaten the Tree of Life, they’da been gods: immortal, and knowing good from evil.  Too bad they didn’t nosh on that first!  God didn’t even forbid the fruit of immortality, only of knowledge.

    But while I don’t see the confusion of tongues as a punishment, rather as a self-protective measure on God’s part, I agree that the inevitable conclusion is:  the Almighty is no globalist.  He does not want the people of the Earth to be one. “Nothing is restrained from them, which they have imagined to do”?  Sounds great, right?  You can be anything you want to be!  “Stronger Together”!

    Not to worry!  If this story is  divine guidance, then the Almighty will confound the Progs again.

    And if it’s not…it’s up to us.

     

    • #7
  8. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    cdor (View Comment):
    Bucking human nature is a losing proposition. I believe Man is innately individualistic. That is precisely the problem with socialism. It destroys, or at least tries to destroy, man’s natural desire to be free and unique. That is also the advantage of capitalism. Far from perfect, it is the best system devised to allow for human success. Unfortunately, capitalism is an amoral system. As such it requires the added layer of an educated and moral society.

    Susan you are always providing subjects of deep thought. Thank you.

    This is what prompted me in a comment on an earlier post to ask, anyone, to tell what a Christian Socialist would look like, if there can by definition be such. I’ve seen no response.

    • #8
  9. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):
    They hate half the nation. Hate us intensely. It will come down when they make their final push.

    That’s interesting, Bryan. What are your thoughts on that?

    • #9
  10. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Progressives are always touting “unity.” What they really mean is, “unify behind our ideas or get buried.” As Dennis Prager says, leftism is the most dynamic religion of the last 100 years.

    • #10
  11. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    cdor (View Comment):
    Bucking human nature is a losing proposition. I believe Man is innately individualistic. That is precisely the problem with socialism. It destroys, or at least tries to destroy, man’s natural desire to be free and unique. That is also the advantage of capitalism. Far from perfect, it is the best system devised to allow for human success. Unfortunately, capitalism is an amoral system. As such it requires the added layer of an educated and moral society.

    Susan you are always providing subjects of deep thought. Thank you.

    Thank you, cdor. That’s an interesting way to describe it: how socialism requires essentially to give up who we are. Very nice!

    • #11
  12. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Nanda Panjandrum (View Comment):
    I’m working on the 2 Chr. 7:14 strategy, daily, SQ:

    [I]f then my people, upon whom my name has been pronounced, humble themselves and pray, and seek my face and turn from their evil ways, I will hear them from heaven and pardon their sins and heal their land.

    Bibles, Harper. NABRE, HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

    I continue to be awed at how He forgives us over and over again! Thanks, Nanda.

    • #12
  13. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):
    I’m reminded of the NBC building in New York. Directly across from a cathedral, the blocky tower stretches high into the sky. It is adorned with a meaningless hodgepodge of mythological figures that are both contradictory to each other and irrelevant to modern secular beliefs. It’s the barren notion of multiculturalism in an awfully big nutshell.

    What an apt analogy, Aaron. We see these meaningless monuments all over, don’t we?

    • #13
  14. Hypatia Inactive
    Hypatia
    @Hypatia

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    cdor (View Comment):
    Bucking human nature is a losing proposition. I believe Man is innately individualistic. That is precisely the problem with socialism. It destroys, or at least tries to destroy, man’s natural desire to be free and unique. That is also the advantage of capitalism. Far from perfect, it is the best system devised to allow for human success. Unfortunately, capitalism is an amoral system. As such it requires the added layer of an educated and moral society.

    Susan you are always providing subjects of deep thought. Thank you.

    This is what prompted me in a comment on an earlier post to ask, anyone, to tell what a Christian Socialist would look like, if there can by definition be such. I’ve seen no response.

    I missed that, @bobthompson.

    Q. What would a Christian socialist look like?

    A.  Like St Peter, who struck two people dead for wanting to retain a bit of capital from the sale of their field.  Early Christian society was totally communal, upon pain of death.

    • #14
  15. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Hypatia (View Comment):
    Not to worry! If this story is  divine guidance, then the Almighty will confound the Progs again.

    And if it’s not…it’s up to us.

    Very well, said, Hypatia. My only concern is wondering if G-d expects us to take care of business, rather than wait on Him. We are meant to act, only I’m not sure what else we should be doing!

    • #15
  16. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):
    This is what prompted me in a comment on an earlier post to ask, anyone, to tell what a Christian Socialist would look like, if there can by definition be such. I’ve seen no response.

    That might be because you won’t find them here! I do have Christian friends who, although they might not call themselves Socialists, they believe in a lot of the system. I know two people who believe in income redistribution, for example.

    • #16
  17. JoelB Member
    JoelB
    @JoelB

    But while I don’t see the confusion of tongues as a punishment, rather as a self-protective measure on God’s part, I agree that the inevitable conclusion is: the Almighty is no globalist. He does not want the people of the Earth to be one. “Nothing is restrained from them, which they have imagined to do”?

    I don’t see the confusion of tongues as self-protective on God’s part, but as protective of the human race. Immortality, as I understand the Bible, would have left the human race unredeemable and unable to enter into the Joy of God’s presence. As for man being a threat to God, the book of Job among other scriptures pretty much squelches that idea.

    • #17
  18. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    JoelB (View Comment):

    But while I don’t see the confusion of tongues as a punishment, rather as a self-protective measure on God’s part, I agree that the inevitable conclusion is: the Almighty is no globalist. He does not want the people of the Earth to be one. “Nothing is restrained from them, which they have imagined to do”?

    I don’t see the confusion of tongues as self-protective on God’s part, but as protective of the human race. Immortality, as I understand the Bible, would have left the human race unredeemable and unable to enter into the Joy of God’s presence. As for man being a threat to God, the book of Job among other scriptures pretty much squelches that idea.

    I tend to agree with you, Joel. (I misread the earlier comment.) G-d doesn’t need protection from anyone. And I do believe that G-d was protecting us from ourselves. In fact, through Moses and the other prophets, G-d makes that effort continuously. People are just so self-centered and we have short memories, too. Thanks for your comment!

    • #18
  19. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Hypatia (View Comment):
    Q. What would a Christian socialist look like?

    A. Like St Peter, who struck two people dead for wanting to retain a bit of capital from the sale of their field. Early Christian society was totally communal, upon pain of death.

    That was God, not St. Peter. Very dramatic way to go. But, if the story has applicability to our situation, it’s that socialism fails even in the Church!

    • #19
  20. Kevin Schulte Member
    Kevin Schulte
    @KevinSchulte

    One of the great evils of the Tower of Babel was the disobedience and exclusion of God. In close proximity in time from the  flood. In that light, the arrogance is remarkable. Evil dwells in the heart of man. The concentration of man concentrates evil.The concentration of Gov concentrates many forms of evil. Look at DC and the EU. Our founders knew this. That’s why federalism.

    The sentence in bold should have read.

    The concentration of man with the exclusion of God concentrates evil.

    • #20
  21. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Many Jewish commentators in history have seen the Babel story as a warning against strong governments and a unified populace.

     

    • #21
  22. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Kevin Schulte (View Comment):
    Evil dwells in the heart of man.

    Very interesting, Kevin. The only area where I would differ is that I  believe that the potential of evil dwells in the heart of man. In Judaism we call it the evil inclination; it is a different concept from Satan. We can pay attention to that potential and give in to it, or choose otherwise. Thanks!

    • #22
  23. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    iWe (View Comment):
    Many Jewish commentators in history have seen the Babel story as a warning against strong governments and a unified populace.

    It would make sense that many Jews would warn against both. And now those dangers are more obvious than ever. We never seem to learn. Thanks, iWe.

    • #23
  24. Kevin Schulte Member
    Kevin Schulte
    @KevinSchulte

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Kevin Schulte (View Comment):
    Evil dwells in the heart of man.

    Very interesting, Kevin. The only area where I would differ is that I believe that the potential of evil dwells in the heart of man. In Judaism we call it the evil inclination; it is a different concept from Satan. We can pay attention to that potential and give in to it, or choose otherwise. Thanks!

    We don’t disagree much . I may have not been as clear as I should.

    Jeremiah 17:9

    9 The heart is deceitful above all things
    and beyond cure.
    Who can understand it?

    • #24
  25. James Gawron Thatcher
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    Susan Quinn: So Progressivism continues to strengthen as it builds on its arrogance, exclusivity, intolerance and hatred in a modern ethic of the Tower of Babel.

    Susan,

    This is a very fine hypothesis. The old Bolshevik creed reminded one more of the generation of the Flood. Thievery and murder were their stock and trade. The modern progressive cultural Marxist is not so crude. Like the generation of the Tower, they are creative and they are builders. It is just that their egos have taken complete hold of them and they are seduced by their own power. Now their purpose becomes perverse. Gd is doing them a favor by confusing their language.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #25
  26. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    James Gawron (View Comment):
    Gd is doing them a favor by confusing their language.

    Thank you, Jim. How do you see G-d confusing their language? And if so, how we can continue to make that situation even worse, to preserve our way of life?

    • #26
  27. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    I think sometimes on my posts commenters see my questions as rhetorical–such as how do we stop today’s building of a Tower of Babel? How do we stop the progressives from continuing to build their power? Relying on Republicans isn’t reassuring, since they are as disorganized as the Progressives. And I don’t know that this isn’t true for Conservatives, too? Is there a way for us to be strengthening religion or religious observance where morality becomes a more important factor than it is today?

    I’m off to sleep shortly but will be rarin’ to go in the morning!

    • #27
  28. James Gawron Thatcher
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    James Gawron (View Comment):
    Gd is doing them a favor by confusing their language.

    Thank you, Jim. How do you see G-d confusing their language? And if so, how we can continue to make that situation even worse, to preserve our way of life?

    Susan,

    If we can get back to true moral and ethical values then we can move forward assured that what we are doing is just and Gd will help us. When we separate our idea of progress from our idea of justice we are likely to get both wrong. Worst of all when we actually imagine that progress and justice are in conflict and we must pick one (it’s always the justice part that gets thrown away) then we are in for very big trouble. Social Justice Warrier is really a misnomer. They are really Social Progress Warriors. They have lost any notion of justice and have taken “Progress” social or otherwise as all that matters. In the end, they produce neither justice nor progress. Man Made Global Warming Ideology has wrecked and impoverished millions of lives and Black Lives Matter is responsible for getting more Black people killed than were killed before the movement started.

    Regards,

    Jim

    Jim

    • #28
  29. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Hypatia (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    cdor (View Comment):
    Bucking human nature is a losing proposition. I believe Man is innately individualistic. That is precisely the problem with socialism. It destroys, or at least tries to destroy, man’s natural desire to be free and unique. That is also the advantage of capitalism. Far from perfect, it is the best system devised to allow for human success. Unfortunately, capitalism is an amoral system. As such it requires the added layer of an educated and moral society.

    Susan you are always providing subjects of deep thought. Thank you.

    This is what prompted me in a comment on an earlier post to ask, anyone, to tell what a Christian Socialist would look like, if there can by definition be such. I’ve seen no response.

    I missed that, @bobthompson.

    Q. What would a Christian socialist look like?

    A. Like St Peter, who struck two people dead for wanting to retain a bit of capital from the sale of their field. Early Christian society was totally communal, upon pain of death.

    Wow, that’s harsh.

    • #29
  30. Nanda Panjandrum Member
    Nanda Panjandrum
    @

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Hypatia (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    cdor (View Comment):
    Bucking human nature is a losing proposition. I believe Man is innately individualistic. That is precisely the problem with socialism. It destroys, or at least tries to destroy, man’s natural desire to be free and unique. That is also the advantage of capitalism. Far from perfect, it is the best system devised to allow for human success. Unfortunately, capitalism is an amoral system. As such it requires the added layer of an educated and moral society.

    Susan you are always providing subjects of deep thought. Thank you.

    This is what prompted me in a comment on an earlier post to ask, anyone, to tell what a Christian Socialist would look like, if there can by definition be such. I’ve seen no response.

    I missed that, @bobthompson.

    Q. What would a Christian socialist look like?

    A. Like St Peter, who struck two people dead for wanting to retain a bit of capital from the sale of their field. Early Christian society was totally communal, upon pain of death.

    Wow, that’s harsh.

    Perhaps this is more about concealment, obfuscation, and craftiness than capitalism, per se. On a related front, St. Paul supported himself – and enjoined others to do  so; presumably with St. Peter’s blessing.

    • #30

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