I Just Read ‘The Great Good Thing’

 

When Ricochet member @andrewklavan posted about his new book called The Great Good Thing – A Secular Jew Comes to Faith in Christ, I was curious. I was curious why he took a little flack from a few Jewish members of Ricochet when he posted about his new book, who didn’t feel he gave Judaism a fair shake. But that’s not why I ordered the book.  As a Christian, I was born into the faith, but came to a more personal faith backward and sideways, sometimes kicking and screaming. I was curious to hear about another person’s journey of faith – was it worse than mine?

So I ordered it and threw it up on my bookshelf for another day.  Published in 2016, I am three years late in picking it up, but not really. I read it at the perfect time. There are times in a person’s life when a book like this is profound and quite frankly, more appreciated, than other times. The recent deaths of people I love and thoughts about mortality and immortality flowing through my mind, rapidly changing world events, including challenges to people of faith, especially Christians and Jews, with the dramatic rise in antisemitism, religious persecution across the world, and the upcoming peace talks in Israel made it the right time.

This book is a story of a soul – we’re all born with one, and Andrew Klavan, an atheist at one time, then an agnostic, could not shake this truth. His awareness seemed to start at around eight years old. Then there was the abusive father, along with the distant mother. In the midst of great suffering, somehow his spirit was never extinguished. I am amazed at how some people can put in words what cannot be put in words. It’s like he turned himself inside out. Andrew Klavan found the words to hold his heart and soul out to the world, that others might find comfort. This book teaches how fragile children are, how innocent, and how parents especially, form their mental and emotional health and well-being.

I could not put it down. An excerpt:

The human heart is so steeped in self-deception that it can easily outrun our own lies. It can even use meticulous honesty as a form of dishonesty, a way of saying to God, “Look how honest I am “. So I let it go – I let it all go. I swung wide the gates to the sorry junkyard of my soul and let God have a good look at the whole rubble-strewn wreck of it.

Another:

An Ultimate Moral Good cannot just be an idea. It must be, in effect, a personality with consciousness and free will. Happy and sad events, from birth to death, just happen, and we ascribe moral qualities to them as they suit us or don’t. We have to choose. Either there is no God and no morality whatsoever, or there is morality and God is real. I couldn’t quite bring myself to accept the existence of God. But I knew the road to hell when I saw it and I chose to go home by another way.

What does love have to do with his experience, marriage, seeing a birth, being on death’s door, suffering mental anguish beyond description, addiction, anger, forgiveness, miracles, poverty, success, rejection, fear, depression and ultimately peace, have to do with it? Read the book. It doesn’t matter where you are in life, how old, what faith or none, how successful or barely making it – this book has something for wherever you find yourself in life. It will give you hope if nothing else. There is no other reason to write it. I found it to be a gift. It’s a story of the human spirit – and in it, you will discover a better understanding of yourself and your place in this world.

Thank you, Mr. Klavan, for sharing your amazing story.

Published in General
This post was promoted to the Main Feed by a Ricochet Editor at the recommendation of Ricochet members. Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.

There are 75 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Podkayne of Israel Inactive
    Podkayne of Israel
    @PodkayneofIsrael

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    Another comparison might be made between Andrew Klavan and Dennis Prager. Prager believes in God. Yet Prager has embraced Judaism, not Christianity.

    Well, Prager got a good Jewish education which gave him the tools to find himself in Judaism. Not every pilgrim is as fearless as Susan Quinn!

    • #31
  2. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards
    @VanceRichards

    Yehoshua Ben-Eliyahu (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    I felt a sadness, a loss, not just because he converted, but he never knew what he left.

    It reminds me of non-observant Jewish parents (or one Jewish and one non-Jewish parent) who tell the world: “When our kids grow up, they will be free to choose whether they want to practice Judaism or not.” But the kids have no inkling of what Judaism is all about so the idea of choosing Jewish practice is absurd.

    Yes, kids will make their own decision when they grow up. But if you want a vegetable garden you need to plant the right seeds, pull out the weeds. You can’t make a plant grow, but you can give it everything it needs to grow.

    • #32
  3. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    It’s interesting how Andrew Klavan’s experience with Judaism and Christianity is different from David Horowitz’s experience.

    David Horowitz was the child of two Jewish schoolteachers who were staunch communistis at the height of the Cold War. Horowitz followed in his parents’ footsteps for a time. But Horowitz became disillusioned with Marxism when he learned that the Black Panthers killed a friend of his and he felt partially responsible because he had introduced his friend to the Panthers.

    But Horowitz’s change of political views didn’t induce him to become either a devout Jew or a Christian or a member of any other religious group. He instead became a non-religious conservative. He wrote up his story in a fascinating book titled, “Radical Son.”

    I personally find Horowitz’s agnosticism more congenial because it’s more humble. There could be a God. But even if there is a God, we really don’t know what God likes and what God does not like. At this point someone like Andrew Klavan might point to the New Testament just as the Jew might point to the Hebrew Bible. But to even claim that these books were authorized or inspired by God is to go further than I can go and still be intellectually honest with myself.

    Sometimes, “I don’t know,” is the most honest answer one can give. That’s why agnosticism continues to have an appeal to me that neither Christianity, nor Judaism nor Islam has.

    Heavy – at least you are honest with yourself.  His story was him being honest with himself.  Some people come to the end of their lives and never find peace, confidence, truth or joy. He seemed to test everything and this worked for him, in that he finally found all that and more.  It was a tough read, no flowers or violins, that’s for sure.

    • #33
  4. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards
    @VanceRichards

    I liked the book. People can give you a lot of scholarly reasons to believe, and that is important, but it is always fun to see how faith actual changed a person’s life.

    It is interesting to point out that Klavan’s early interest in the Bible had nothing at all to do with a spiritual journey. He wasn’t looking for higher purpose or meaning, he wanted to be a writer and you cannot understand the classics or Western Culture without some understanding of the Bible.

     

    • #34
  5. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    Keith Rice (View Comment):
    That’s not to say that Klavan is forgiven if he returns to the fold, there’s nothing to forgive he’s doing the right thing for himself.

    Here’s my theological belief, regarding this. It is just one’s man’s opinion.

    In the Jewish and Christian religions, an act of will, including an act of worship, is judged sinful or not exclusively by whether it conforms to God’s will.  Doing a thing to please oneself is not virtue, but the essence of sin.

    If Mr. Klavan has merely proclaimed Christianity in order to please himself, as you imply, then according to Christ’s teaching he is not a true Jew and therefore not a true Christian.

    • #35
  6. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    Vance Richards (View Comment):

    I liked the book. People can give you a lot of scholarly reasons to believe, and that is important, but it is always fun to see how faith actual changed a person’s life.

    It is interesting to point out that Klavan’s early interest in the Bible had nothing at all to do with a spiritual journey. He wasn’t looking for higher purpose or meaning, he wanted to be a writer and you cannot understand the classics or Western Culture without some understanding of the Bible.

     

    Good point – and he devoured them all (except in school when it was required reading!).  His world was writing crime novels and mysteries.  His spiritual journey was certainly not someone ‘seeking’ but the opposite, which makes the story even more fascinating.

    • #36
  7. Jon1979 Inactive
    Jon1979
    @Jon1979

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    I very much liked Klavan’s book, too. I have one correction. Based on my recollection, I don’t think it’s fair to characterize his father as “abusive.” They had a difficult relationship, but it didn’t seem like abuse to me.

    Andrew’s dad’s name was plastered all over the city buses in Manhattan back in the mid-to-late 1960s, as part of WNEW radio’s ad campaign for the Klavan  & Finch radio show. Which made him at least a bit of a local celebrity, if not one outside of New York City. I don’t know if not just having a father with whom you’re in a contentious relationship with, but having a dad who is at least famous in the heart of your hometown and who people there loved for the person they only knew as his persona on the radio might have exacerbated the problem (especially in the 1960s, when the idea of celebrating your bad habits and persona on the radio in Don Imus-Howard Stern fashion was still a little ways off).

    • #37
  8. Lois Lane Coolidge
    Lois Lane
    @LoisLane

    I have not read Andrew Klavan’s book, and I don’t mean to be cheeky at all or offensive in any way with the comments I’m about to make, but I’d like some clarification if my thinking is incorrect per what I perceive as the overwhelmingly secular nature of American Judaism.

    I don’t think of Jews as part of a distinct race but as part of a distinct ethnicity.  Within the markers of that ethnicity in the United States, religion seems rather secondary to me, though there is a strong sense of community amongst Jewish peoples, a distinct culture that stresses a strong work ethic, and particular rights of passage shared by (almost) all Jewish teenagers… a series of cultural touchstones, I suppose.  There are even some self-embraced stereotypes as well like those found in the works of Phillip Roth or in the mother who used to be on the Big Bang Theory that are benign but familiar. There are things like the food one eats or the holidays one observes that can show that someone is Jewish, but going to synagogue for actual worship is not as important as breaking a glass on one’s wedding day or whatever.

    I suppose this is like my conception of cultural Christians who celebrate Christmas as a mere gift exchange in December and have their pictures taken with the Easter Bunny in the mall, though being that sort of Christian is more often a marker for some other ethnic identity rather than an ethnicity on its own, i.e. if one is Italian, one is likely the “Catholic” flavor of Christian who will wear white lace at first communion as a child, but that is a secondary thing to the foods, the community traditions, the cultural stress on family, the kind of wedding one will have, etc., to be Italian.  (That person may even go to weekly mass and light some candles for good measure, but actual belief is… well… questionable.)

    It is for this reason that I don’t really understand why one’s conversion to Christianity would stop one from being Jewish anymore than converting to Judaism would stop one from being Italian.  If one still lives within the community and partakes in all of that other stuff, does not one retain an ethnicity?  Even if one abandons a religion that is simply a marker in that identity and not even–from my point of view–the most important marker?

    I have certainly known enough atheists who would still say they are Jews to shift my thoughts in this direction.  (I have, of course, also known Jews who felt their religion deeply and practiced… well… religiously.  But that just doesn’t seem necessary for this particular identity???)

    • #38
  9. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    Lois Lane (View Comment):

    I’d like some clarification if my thinking is incorrect per what I perceive as the overwhelmingly secular nature of American Judaism.

    I don’t think of Jews as part of a distinct race but as part of a distinct ethnicity. Within the markers of that ethnicity in the United States, religion seems rather secondary to me, though there is a strong sense of community amongst Jewish peoples, a distinct culture that stresses a strong work ethic, and particular rights of passage shared by (almost) all Jewish teenagers… a series of cultural touchstones, I suppose. There are even some self-embraced stereotypes as well like those found in the works of Phillip Roth or in the mother who used to be on the Big Bang Theory that are benign but familiar. There are things like the food one eats or the holidays one observes that can show that someone is Jewish, but going to synagogue for actual worship is not as important as breaking a glass on one’s wedding day or whatever.

    It is for this reason that I don’t really understand why one’s conversion to Christianity would stop one from being Jewish anymore than converting to Judaism would stop one from being Italian. If one still lives within the community and partakes in all of that other stuff, does not one retain an ethnicity? Even if one abandons a religion that is simply a marker in that identity and not even–from my point of view–the most important marker?

    I have certainly known enough atheists who would still say they are Jews to shift my thoughts in this direction. (I have, of course, also known Jews who felt their religion deeply and practiced… well… religiously. But that just doesn’t seem necessary for this particular identity???)

    Lois – you make a great point here, and something that I think many Christians, and possibly anyone, is unclear regarding the Jews. I referred to them as a race in a comment and was corrected that they are not a race, but Jews are a part of every race.  That makes more sense to me.  Yet, now that we have DNA testing, and everyone is jumping into Ancestry.com etc.,I am curious that there are distinct ancestral markers that identify a person physically, like you said, as someone with an Italian lineage as opposed to an Irish lineage.  If it is just who was married to who, then why offer DNA samples. I am curious because are we all not descendants of Abraham? But we are not all descendants of the 12 Tribes of Israel. This could open a new post. So Andrew Klavan is still by lineage Jewish, even if he had no faith or became a Buddhist, right? I hope you’ll read the book.

    • #39
  10. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Lois Lane (View Comment):
    I have certainly known enough atheists who would still say they are Jews to shift my thoughts in this direction. (I have, of course, also known Jews who felt their religion deeply and practiced… well… religiously. But that just doesn’t seem necessary for this particular identity???)

    @LoisLane, I think you’ve described the majority of Jews in this country very well. I can’t think of anything to which I would take exception. The degree to which Jews participate in the ethnic side probably varies from Jew to Jew, but many Jews today who are barely religious or secular probably hold on to many practices that aren’t particularly religious.

    • #40
  11. Dave Sussman Contributor
    Dave Sussman
    @DaveSussman

    After listening to Andrews book when it came out I was also a little sad. I have met Andrew a number of times and been part of a couple of small informal discussions with him outside a former secret group for Hollywood conservatives. He also joined me on the show. Without getting into the academics or history others have here I will share my personal feeling as a conservative Jew.

    Andrews childhood apathy and the strong hand of his Father was similar to my upbringing. For my first eight years, I went to an Orthodox synagogue outside London. The discomfort and discipline didn’t work for me. I innately felt coerced without understanding why.

    My super strict Father was a single child, raised in WW2 East London poverty where he was in fights daily due to being Jewish. My Grandfather fought the Germans with the RAF and was shot down over Nazi-occupied France where he then became a POW in a Nazi work camp for four years.

    From my earliest memories, my Father drummed into me and my 3 younger siblings the importance of continuing the traditions of Judaism as we were almost wiped out. He once told me a story about being in love with the heiress of a British billion dollar trucking conglomerate, and she loved him. He wanted to marry her as she did him. He struggled though, as she was not Jewish and wanted to honor his Father’s sacrifice and raise Jewish children. He gave up a life of certain financial comfort and privilege. Two years later he met my Mother and was married for 42 years before he passed.

    When we moved to the States we joined a Conservative synagogue where I felt more at home. I was a Bar Mitzvah at 13 and still today remember looking down from the bimah and seeing tears in my Fathers eyes.

    I ensured my two sons went to Hebrew school and became a part of our Jewish community. They were both a Bar Mitzvah and each time I felt my late Father looking down at us beaming.

    Andrew is his own man, I respect his writing and enjoy his show as well as his ability to communicate his journey so well. But as others have said on this thread, and with the growing worldwide anti-semitism, it’s sad for those of us who were raised to believe the traditions of Judaism should be taught and continued on to the next generation.

    • #41
  12. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Dave Sussman (View Comment):
    From my earliest memories, my Father drummed into me and my 3 younger siblings the importance of continuing the traditions of Judaism as we were almost wiped out

    @davesussman, it must have been incredibly difficult for many parents to figure out how to instill their children with the deep desire to be a Jew–out of their love of the tradition, rather than out of compulsion. My parents never felt that deep connection to Judaism themselves, and although they told me they wanted me to marry a Jew (I didn’t), they didn’t impart the reasons for doing so.

    • #42
  13. Dave Sussman Contributor
    Dave Sussman
    @DaveSussman

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    it must have been incredibly difficult for many parents to figure out how to instill their children with the deep desire to be a Jew–out of their love of the tradition, rather than out of compulsion.

    Yes, that was the difference for me. I respect the Orthodox synagogue very much. It’s a discipline that I am just not wired for. When I lived in Vegas (1990’s) I used to attend Chabad, primarily because I didn’t belong to a local synagogue. I also attended Chabad in SoCal several times before I had kids (always enjoyed standing next to Dennis Prager) but for raising my kids I think both they and I benefitted from the less strict, more family-friendly environment of our Temple. 

    When I went to Israel a few years back it was with AISH which is Orthodox. As an adult, I appreciated it so much more than when I was a kid. 

    • #43
  14. Lois Lane Coolidge
    Lois Lane
    @LoisLane

    Dave Sussman (View Comment):
    From my earliest memories, my Father drummed into me and my 3 younger siblings the importance of continuing the traditions of Judaism as we were almost wiped out.

    I guess this is the thing that I do not understand.  I mean… I haven’t read the book, but isn’t Andrew still capable of doing these things while also following a different religion?  I mean…. I understand that Dave’s father would not marry a person who was not Jewish because he wanted his children to be Jewish, but what is Jewish?

    Irish Catholics are supposed to marry Catholics to raise their children Catholic, but when Irish Catholics become cultural Catholics only… well… They are still Irish but not really Catholic.

    It seems to work differently for someone who is Jewish.  One can be Jewish without actually being Jewish?    It works more like an ethnicity than a religion.

    This is the thing I cannot seem to comprehend.

    Regardless, a family’s roots are important.  A sense of history and struggle and survival of a people is essential to remember.  I am not sure one can ever divorce one’s self from that history.  Paul was also Saul, yes?

    This is just very curious to me.

    I am currently delving a bit more into Soren Kierkegaard’s ideas about authentic identity, and for some reason this conversation seems to me to be relevant to many of the things this philosopher has gotten me thinking in relation to the Creator.

    I am very disturbed by the antisemitism that has reared its vile head in society yet again.  Here?  In the United States?  I find it flabbergasting.  I also wonder how some people could ever identify Jews as people to hate for being Jews.  It is all disgusting to me, and I believe none of those people have any concept at all of the nature of man’s holy father, whatever “faiths” they say they practice.

    But I am also confounded a bit by the term Jew for I do not know what is meant by it now, and I have gotten more and more confused by this conversation.  It used to mean a man from Judea, but that is geography, yes?  That is like a man from Ireland is Irish.

    We have established being Jewish is not being a certain race, but it is also not about being a certain religion.  It is… hard to pin down.

    • #44
  15. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Lois Lane (View Comment):
    We have established being Jewish is not being a certain race, but it is also not about being a certain religion. It is… hard to pin down.

    I hate the idea that Judaism is an ethnicity, usually trivially defined by language and food. 

    Ultimately, anyone who really wants to be Jewish will be. And anyone who really wants to NOT be Jewish can manage it as well. 

    For me (and, I believe, G-d), being Jewish is about seeking a relationship with G-d using the Torah as the guide.

    • #45
  16. Lois Lane Coolidge
    Lois Lane
    @LoisLane

    iWe (View Comment):

    Lois Lane (View Comment):
    We have established being Jewish is not being a certain race, but it is also not about being a certain religion. It is… hard to pin down.

    I hate the idea that Judaism is an ethnicity, usually trivially defined by language and food.

    Ultimately, anyone who really wants to be Jewish will be. And anyone who really wants to NOT be Jewish can manage it as well.

    For me (and, I believe, G-d), being Jewish is about seeking a relationship with G-d using the Torah as the guide.

    If being Jewish is truly about using the Torah as guide, then only sincerely religious Jews are authentically Jewish, and the group of authentic Jews is much smaller in the United States than demographics suggest.  (The same could be said of Christians, btw… They are a much, much smaller group here once you strip out the “cultural Christians” who use the word “Christian” much more loosely than, say, I do.)

    In that case, building upon what was learned from the Torah and choosing instead to use the Bible as guide, Andrew Klaven did cease to be what sounds like one who might have been defined as (nominally) “Jewish” to become what one might call “authentically Christian.”

    If, however, the many people who strongly identify as Jewish who are actually agnostic at best are Jewish as well, then there must be a different definition.  (IF that is the case, the attrition of Judaism is not coming from Christian conversion.  It is a different sort of falling away, yes?)

    I do hope I’m not stepping on any toes here.  Again, I’ve been reading Kirkegaard, and he tends to push you into thinking deeply about these sorts of things….

    Thank you very much for the response, @iwe.

    • #46
  17. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Lois Lane (View Comment):

    iWe (View Comment):

    Lois Lane (View Comment):
    We have established being Jewish is not being a certain race, but it is also not about being a certain religion. It is… hard to pin down.

    I hate the idea that Judaism is an ethnicity, usually trivially defined by language and food.

    Ultimately, anyone who really wants to be Jewish will be. And anyone who really wants to NOT be Jewish can manage it as well.

    For me (and, I believe, G-d), being Jewish is about seeking a relationship with G-d using the Torah as the guide.

    If being Jewish is truly about using the Torah as guide, then only sincerely religious Jews are authentically Jewish, and the group of authentic Jews is much smaller in the United States than demographics suggest. (The same could be said of Christians, btw… They are a much, much smaller group here once you strip out the “cultural Christians” who use the word “Christian” much more loosely than, say, I do.)

    In that case, building upon what was learned from the Torah and choosing instead to use the Bible as guide, Andrew Klaven did cease to be what sounds like one who might have been defined as (nominally) “Jewish” to become what one might call “authentically Christian.”

    If, however, the many people who strongly identify as Jewish who are actually agnostic at best are Jewish as well, then there must be a different definition. (IF that is the case, the attrition of Judaism is not coming from Christian conversion. It is a different sort of falling away, yes?)

    I do hope I’m not stepping on any toes here. Again, I’ve been reading Kirkegaard, and he tends to push you into thinking deeply about these sorts of things….

    Thank you very much for the response, @iwe.

    @LoisLane, you do know that if you get two Jews in a room you’re going to get three different opinions. I think you are making this a little too complicated. So I might as well make it more so. ;-)  G-d gave the Jews 613 laws to follow. Only the Orthodox tend to follow all of them (or at least most of them). Besides Orthodox there are Conservatives, Reform and Reconstructionist (whom I don’t consider Jews–they are too far out for me) and lots of groups and gradations in between and a huge variety of observances. I don’t know what an authentic Jew is–your word. If you were born to a Jewish mother, you’re Jewish. Beyond that, others should mind their own practices whether than judging others! (Referring to other Jews, not you.) To me, I’m Jewish. The level of religiosity, practice, devotion–all of that is up to me.

    • #47
  18. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    G-d gave the Jews 613 laws to follow

    Which of these was the greatest?

    • #48
  19. Lois Lane Coolidge
    Lois Lane
    @LoisLane

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    @LoisLane, you do know that if you get two Jews in a room you’re going to get three different opinions. I think you are making this a little too complicated. So I might as well make it more so. ;-) G-d gave the Jews 613 laws to follow. Only the Orthodox tend to follow all of them (or at least most of them). Besides Orthodox there are Conservatives, Reform and Reconstructionist (whom I don’t consider Jews–they are too far out for me) and lots of groups and gradations in between and a huge variety of observances. I don’t know what an authentic Jew is–your word. If you were born to a Jewish mother, you’re Jewish. Beyond that, others should mind their own practices whether than judging others! (Referring to other Jews, not you.) To me, I’m Jewish. The level of religiosity, practice, devotion–all of that is up to me.

    Just to be clear…. the “authentic” thing is a total echo of Kirkegaard who wasn’t talking of Jews but self.  However, I thought of it this way because I’m thinking about existentialism, which means I’m framing this through that prism.  

    I have to laugh a little at your description of the different types of Jews, as you know there are more than 3,000 Protestant versions of Christianity in the United States in addition to Catholics.  Then there are the Orthodox.  And the Unitarians (whom I don’t consider Christians-they are too far out for me).  :)

    As you can tell, for me this is a mirror conversation of “What is a Christian?”  (If you get three Christians from different denominations in a room….)  There is a twist, however, because being Christian means being a “follower of Christ.”  There is no other true definition.  But if Andrew Klavan’s mom was Jewish, then by the most basic of definitions you’ve included here, he has remained Jewish.  Even if he’s also now a Christian.  It is… unique

    I have truly enjoyed thinking about this, and I appreciate the help.  

    Everyone on this thread has been really awesome.  

    • #49
  20. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Lois Lane (View Comment):
    There is a twist, however, because being Christian means being a “follower of Christ.”

    That depends on whose definition you’re using.

    • #50
  21. Mikescapes Inactive
    Mikescapes
    @Mikescapes

    Podkayne of Israel (View Comment):

    The thing is, no matter how good a writer, lucid a thinker, or sincere a soul Klavan is, as a Jew, I will always see the conversion of a fellow Jew to Christianity as a loss to our people and a failure of our community. It is not exactly fair to term Klavan’s case as apostasy, since the thin gruel of “Judaism” on which he was raised consisted political Leftism plus the dogma that Jesus is not the Messiah. The weakness of his Jewish education left him unable to engage with meatier Jewish sources, texts, prayer, and devotional and communal experiences which could have satisfied his hungry soul, but he never acquired the means with which to digest it.

    And that will always leave us sad.

    Can’t say I always sad. Suspicious maybe. I converted from liberal to conservative, but it’s a little different. I abandoned liberalism because I came see it, and its practicioners as a failure. But I knew the dogma well. Apparently, Klavan, due to bad parenting, never got the opportunity even to study Judiasm 101.

    Still I’m a big fan. Love his witty analysis of the twisted Left’s belief system. Could he be acting out some residual anger towards his parents? If so, good for him.

     

     

     

     

    • #51
  22. Dave Sussman Contributor
    Dave Sussman
    @DaveSussman

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Lois Lane (View Comment):

    iWe (View Comment):

    Lois Lane (View Comment):
    We have established being Jewish is not being a certain race, but it is also not about being a certain religion. It is… hard to pin down.

    I hate the idea that Judaism is an ethnicity, usually trivially defined by language and food.

    Ultimately, anyone who really wants to be Jewish will be. And anyone who really wants to NOT be Jewish can manage it as well.

    For me (and, I believe, G-d), being Jewish is about seeking a relationship with G-d using the Torah as the guide.

    If being Jewish is truly about using the Torah as guide, then only sincerely religious Jews are authentically Jewish, and the group of authentic Jews is much smaller in the United States than demographics suggest. (The same could be said of Christians, btw… They are a much, much smaller group here once you strip out the “cultural Christians” who use the word “Christian” much more loosely than, say, I do.)

    In that case, building upon what was learned from the Torah and choosing instead to use the Bible as guide, Andrew Klaven did cease to be what sounds like one who might have been defined as (nominally) “Jewish” to become what one might call “authentically Christian.”

    If, however, the many people who strongly identify as Jewish who are actually agnostic at best are Jewish as well, then there must be a different definition. (IF that is the case, the attrition of Judaism is not coming from Christian conversion. It is a different sort of falling away, yes?)

    I do hope I’m not stepping on any toes here. Again, I’ve been reading Kirkegaard, and he tends to push you into thinking deeply about these sorts of things….

    Thank you very much for the response, @iwe.

    @LoisLane, you do know that if you get two Jews in a room you’re going to get three different opinions. I think you are making this a little too complicated. So I might as well make it more so. ;-) G-d gave the Jews 613 laws to follow. Only the Orthodox tend to follow all of them (or at least most of them). Besides Orthodox there are Conservatives, Reform and Reconstructionist (whom I don’t consider Jews–they are too far out for me) and lots of groups and gradations in between and a huge variety of observances. I don’t know what an authentic Jew is–your word. If you were born to a Jewish mother, you’re Jewish. Beyond that, others should mind their own practices whether than judging others! (Referring to other Jews, not you.) To me, I’m Jewish. The level of religiosity, practice, devotion–all of that is up to me.

    Hooo boy. Can of worms, meet opener. 

    Simply put;  I am no less a Jew because I don’t read Torah daily. However, I am certainly much less religious. 

    • #52
  23. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Lois Lane (View Comment):
    have truly enjoyed thinking about this, and I appreciate the help.

    You might find it interesting that a book recommended to me by @iwe, interestingly enough is The Quest for Authenticity: The Thought of Reb Simhah Bunim by Michael Rosen. It’s a wonderful book and a valuable approach to Judaism.

    • #53
  24. Lois Lane Coolidge
    Lois Lane
    @LoisLane

    Dave Sussman (View Comment):
    Hooo boy. Can of worms, meet opener. 

    Are we talking that electric machine thing?  Or the metal gadget we can store in a drawer that has another side that also opens beer cans?  Or the hammer my husband used once to open beans because we’d forgotten all other helpful tools whilst camping?  All are can openers, I suppose, if they can open cans….  :) :) :) :) :) :) 

     

     

    • #54
  25. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Lois Lane (View Comment):
    There is a twist, however, because being Christian means being a “follower of Christ.”

    That depends on whose definition you’re using.

    True.  No word has any inherent meaning.

    When a follower of Christ says “I’m a Christian” he means “I am a follower of Christ”.

    I and many others who believe we are followers of Christ believe this:

    That a person who says he is a Christian, and seeks to prove it to himself or to men by his acts, is deceived by Satan.

    That a person who says he is a Jew and seeks to prove it to himself or to men by his acts, is deceived by Satan.

    That the Bible, old parts and new parts, says that God is disgusted by the rituals of hypocrites, who believe that following “Jewish traditions” or “Christian traditions” will restore them to his household.

    That to be a true Christian one must be a true Jew, one who humbly seeks God in truth and in spirit. 

    That all acts of true worship, whether traditional or unplanned, are the response to, not the cause of, oneness with God.

    • #55
  26. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Lois Lane (View Comment):
    There is a twist, however, because being Christian means being a “follower of Christ.”

    That depends on whose definition you’re using.

    It’s a good thing that God is the ultimate judge of the human heart……!

    • #56
  27. Lois Lane Coolidge
    Lois Lane
    @LoisLane

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Lois Lane (View Comment):
    There is a twist, however, because being Christian means being a “follower of Christ.”

    That depends on whose definition you’re using.

    True. No word has any inherent meaning.

    When a follower of Christ says “I’m a Christian” he means “I am a follower of Christ”.

    I and many others who believe we are followers of Christ believe this:

    That a person who says he is a Christian, and seeks to prove it to himself or to men by his acts, is deceived by Satan.

    That a person who says he is a Jew and seeks to prove it to himself or to men by his acts, is deceived by Satan.

    That the Bible, old parts and new parts, says that God is disgusted by the rituals of hypocrites, who believe that following “Jewish traditions” or “Christian traditions” will restore them to his household.

    That to be a true Christian one must be a true Jew, one who humbly seeks God in truth and in spirit.

    That all acts of true worship, whether traditional or unplanned, are the response to, not the cause of, oneness with God.

    Honestly… you sound a bit like Kirkegaard.  ;)  And I dig me some Soren.  

    • #57
  28. Yehoshua Ben-Eliyahu Inactive
    Yehoshua Ben-Eliyahu
    @YehoshuaBenEliyahu

    Mark Camp (View Comment):
    If Mr. Klavan has merely proclaimed Christianity in order to please himself, as you imply, then according to Christ’s teaching he is not a true Jew and therefore not a true Christian.

    That’s a very telling point.  Judaism is supposed to be about doing what G-d wants.  It’s not about doing what you want.  Compliance with Torah law is an attempt to live life as G-d commands you to live it.

    • #58
  29. Yehoshua Ben-Eliyahu Inactive
    Yehoshua Ben-Eliyahu
    @YehoshuaBenEliyahu

    Gary McVey (View Comment):
    Tom Friedman once said that for Muslims, Islam is God 3.0, Christianity is God 2.0, Judaism is God 1.0, and Hinduism is God 0.0.

    I find it amusing that a hard core leftist like Friedman should pretend to know somthing about faith.

    If Friedman had been honest, he would have added one more number to this series:  Friedman is God 10.0

    • #59
  30. Yehoshua Ben-Eliyahu Inactive
    Yehoshua Ben-Eliyahu
    @YehoshuaBenEliyahu

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    G-d gave the Jews 613 laws to follow

    Which of these was the greatest?

    All are equally important.  

    • #60
Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.