Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Progressive Jews, Secularism and the Future of Judaism

 

In the last few years, I’ve written about American Jews and their future, especially regarding their allegiance to the Democrat or Republican parties; recently, the numbers haven’t changed much. Most non-traditional Jews (about 70 percent) identify as Democrats and the remainder of Jews, mostly Orthodox, support Republicans.

Rather than look at party affiliation, however, I’ve become increasingly concerned with the growing emergence of the radical Left and the Jewish affiliation with them. In addition, the efforts to make Judaism more “palatable” to Jews who are not Orthodox is slowly tearing at the fabric of the Jewish faith. Ultimately, my concern is that the existence of the faith could be in jeopardy on two fronts: the growth of anti-Semitism, and the disinterest in continuing the Jewish faith in a form that resembles its roots.

The first front, anti-Semitism, has been of growing concern. The main source for data is the Anti-Defamation League, which has become strongly influenced by the Left. In 2017 the League reported an increase in anti-Semitism of 57 percent, ranging from anti-Semitic tweets to bomb threats sent to Jewish institutions. Our federal government also collects information on anti-Semitism here. At the federal government level, we have also seen a reluctance to hold members of Congress accountable for anti-Semitic rhetoric.

Although these data are cause for concern, I think that the Jewish community is at even greater risk for discounting anti-Semitic attacks, and I think those responsible may in part be the Progressive Jews themselves; they either keep silent or ally themselves with Progressivism.

In many ways, Progressivism is a secular religion. Here is one source’s definition of religion and secularism:

. . . in the social sciences, when trying to describe religious life, we refer to the 3-Bs: belief, behavior, and belonging. Religion generally involves one, two, or all three aspects, to varying degrees, and depending on the religious tradition or culture at hand. By belief, we mean belief in supernatural beings or entities, such as God or gods, spirits, angels, demons, jinn, etc. as well as non-empirically verifiable realms, such as heaven, hell, etc. As for behavior, we mean things like ritual performance, prayer, holiday celebrations, fasts, feasts, confession, bat mitzvahs – the myriad things people do in relation to religious beliefs. And by belonging, we simply mean identification with or membership in a religious community, tradition, denomination, or congregation.

So to be secular means that 1) a person does not believe in supernatural beings, entities, or realms, 2) a person does not engage in religious behaviors, and 3) a person does not identify as religious and is not a member of a religious community.

A number of questions arise out of these definitions: (1) What does it mean for a Jew to be a secular Jew? (2) Can a secular Jew (who doesn’t believe in G-d but in Progressivism) still be a Jew? (3) By whose standards? Finally, and the most serious question is, (4) What are the ramifications for a Progressive Jew, and to the Jewish community and faith, when Jews don’t believe in the G-d of Judaism, but rather their own vague, mystical version of G-d, or no G-d at all?

In setting out to look at those who affiliate with Reform Judaism, the most liberal group in the Jewish faith, I wanted to better understand their beliefs. It’s no surprise that the actual beliefs vary from Jew to Jew, but here is one set of ideas from a Reform Rabbi:

There is no catechism, and there are no required beliefs. Everyone is free to believe and profess whatever they have learned about and believe. In fact, I know of one Reform Rabbi who believes that Torah was revealed at Sinai. Some of his colleagues (myself included) may not agree with him, and may not even understand how he reconciles that belief with Reform Jewish philosophy, but that doesn’t disqualify him as a Reform Rabbi. . . Many Reform Jews have a deep belief in a God that is not literal or theistic, but rather is more mystical or spiritual. Many believe that though the Torah was written by humans, there is still a deep, abiding and divine wisdom that is imparted through the teachings which separates Torah from other literature (bold sentence by me).

From his definition, I assume that Jews can believe in anything they wish; they can create their own understanding of God; the Torah was written by man, but it still offers wisdom. Could someone explain what the bolded sentence means?

Conservative Jews are substantially more observant than Reform, but the amount of practice, observance and community participation varies from family to family.

When we turn to the descriptions of Progressive Jews, secular Jews (which may include many Progressive Jews) and Reform Jews, a disturbing factor stands out: They have the religion of Progressivism: secular Jews have no belief in God; Reform Jews believe in their own manufactured belief in G-d; and Conservatives are a mixed bag. There is no traditional religious grounding to be had.

I do understand that many of these Jews across the spectrum may practice some Jewish rituals: holding a seder or lighting Chanukah candles and exchanging gifts. But most of these practices in most families are superficial and often don’t include the deepest meaning of these occasions.

Why does all of this matter? I’m proposing that the less connection that Jews have to Judaism, the less commitment they will have to its survival; we have seen this occur in history, time after time. After over 2,000 years, Judaism might be changing into a kind of identity, like being a football player or a gourmet cook. The Progressive Jews in their many forms will have other priorities: creating an ideal world, fighting climate change, providing healthcare for everyone, and eliminating obstacles that are in their way; these causes will become their new idols. The only problem is that religion and religious beliefs will continue to be seen as roadblocks to the overall Progressive movement—by Jews and non-Jews alike. And the Jews will be more vulnerable than ever to anti-Semitic forces.

What will the Progressive and secular and even Reform Jews do then?

[For those who don’t know me, I was raised with little background in Judaism but have always had a strong belief in G-d. I, like many non-Orthodox Jews, married a gentile. I call myself a returning Jew, and am grateful to all those who have helped me along the way. So I am part of the problem, as well as (hopefully) part of the solution.]

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There are 59 comments.

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  1. Stad Thatcher

    Susan Quinn: What does it mean for a Jew to be a secular Jew?

    I think “secular Jew” is an oxymoron. Maybe a better term would be “non-practicing jew” or a secular individual who was born into a Jewish family and raised as a Jew.

    • #1
    • October 20, 2019, at 7:57 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  2. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Stad (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: What does it mean for a Jew to be a secular Jew?

    I think “secular Jew” is an oxymoron. Maybe a better term would be “non-practicing jew” or a secular individual who was born into a Jewish family and raised as a Jew.

    But the question is, does the person believe in G-d, @stad? The whole thing about being able to be an ethnic Jew and not believe in G-d is what I think is involved.

    • #2
    • October 20, 2019, at 8:00 AM PST
    • 1 like
  3. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    I realize that if non-Jews concur with my argument, you may be concerned that you’ll be perceived as blaming the victims or even anti-Semitic. In fact, it may look like that is what I’m proposing. In fact, I’m trying to wake up Jews who may be complacent and those who may be going along; we have enough history behind us to show that we can fight back–and we must fight back.

    • #3
    • October 20, 2019, at 8:15 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  4. MichaelKennedy Coolidge

    There were a lot of secular Jews in Germany in 1934. By 1938, not so many.

    • #4
    • October 20, 2019, at 8:26 AM PST
    • 8 likes
  5. James Gawron Thatcher

    Susan,

    In the 1990s a poll was taken of the Reform Congregations. In about 1/3 the majority of the congregants when asked simply “Do you believe in Gd?” answered No. This was approximately 100 years from a great conference of the Reform in which they laid down their principle of radically reforming the Jewish Faith. At the same moment, the intermarriage rate in Reform (without trying to mix in other denominations to cover their tracks) hit about 70%. Obviously, to continue to call reform a religion at all was questionable. I attribute the intermarriage rate as related to this. If you stand for nothing, why in the world should anyone care about the continuity of the faith? What faith?

    Since that time Reform has moved right. Realizing that their 100-year-old program of reform had now turned into a bad joke, they brought back a few rituals right out of the Orthodox playbook.

    Susan, first I really think that people have fallen for the lie that religion isn’t an important part of your life. This is a very foolish belief one that many of today’s young may regret later on with experience. Second, how can you really support the existence of the Jewish State if you can’t define Judaism? Often both the American Reform and Conservative movements have come into conflict with the Israeli government, giving aid and comfort to obvious enemies looking for a way to undermine Israel. I just was speaking to an Israeli here in America who has a lot of family in Israel in the military, special forces, and intelligence. He says Israelis resent the Americans who know nothing about the middle east, are full of vacuous advice, and don’t understand the life & death commitment that it takes to be an Israeli.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #5
    • October 20, 2019, at 8:31 AM PST
    • 13 likes
  6. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    James Gawron (View Comment):
    He says Israelis resent the Americans who know nothing about the middle east, are full of vacuous advice, and don’t understand the life & death commitment that it takes to be an Israeli.

    An excellent comment, Jim. People here often fall for the anti-Israel propaganda instead of becoming informed. Israel makes mistakes, but unless they have the whole picture, I would prefer they keep their ideas to themselves. Thanks.

    • #6
    • October 20, 2019, at 8:56 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  7. MarciN Member

    I don’t know what the future holds for Christianity either. It is not being passed down to as many children as it should be. Even a simple belief in G-d seems too much for the Left to bear.

    When I was a volunteer ten years ago, I saw so many children in public schools who didn’t even know that G-d exists and was there for them. I’m upset about it because I had a sometimes problematic childhood–as all children do. But unlike the parents of children today, my parents belonged to a church (the Congregational church–they had grown up in the Baptist church but left it as young adults), and because of that and Sunday school, if I was ever scared or worried, I knew I could talk to G-d. My knowledge of the scriptures is pathetically nonexistent, but I at least have always known they were there, and I certainly have always been consoled or encouraged or whatever else I have ever needed by prayer. I have never felt alone in the world, the way so many of the kids do today.

    I read a really funny column years ago by the humorist Art Buchwald when the debate was raging about taking prayer out of the schools. I agreed with Buchwald that prayer needed to go because having the kids pray together was fueling the Catholic-Protestant war: the Catholics crossed themselves and stopped speaking before the Protestants got to the end of the prayer. Let the playground wars commence! At any rate, Buchwald wrote, paraphrasing from memory, “People are afraid that the kids won’t pray anymore. Are you kidding? Listen to the whispered prayers on test days!”

    Neither Art Buchwald nor I could ever have envisioned what the secular school of today looks like–how absent G-d is from the life of children who do not have a strong religious family.

    But why wouldn’t there be a universal decline in church membership? There has been a constant negative image of organized religion promulgated throughout the culture–from schools, textbooks, television shows, and the news media. If you want to destroy a group’s identity, make people ashamed to belong to it. Mention Christianity and the two images that come to people’s mind immediately are the Crusades and the Inquisition.

    • #7
    • October 20, 2019, at 11:14 AM PST
    • 11 likes
  8. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    MarciN (View Comment):
    have never felt alone in the world, the way so many of the kids do today.

    I agree with all you say, @marcin. It’s interesting that I always maintained my belief in G-d, although my folks never spoke of Him. But He showed up in Hebrew and Saturday schools, and somehow that penetrated. I agree that Christianity is at risk, too, although you’ll be a tougher group–larger, for one! Thank you.

    • #8
    • October 20, 2019, at 11:30 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  9. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    For an FBI report on Hate Crimes, including Judaism, click here.

    • #9
    • October 20, 2019, at 12:25 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  10. Rodin Member

    Susan Quinn:

    Many Reform Jews have a deep belief in a God that is not literal or theistic, but rather is more mystical or spiritual.

     Could someone explain what the bolded sentence means?

    I think the concept is one of making things happen versus providing some source of power to enable humans to make something happen. If your vision is a G-d that makes things happen, then you are engaging in an exchange — a quid pro quo — to induce the use of the power of your behalf. Performing rituals and demonstrating devotion, making prayers, are examples of things that humans do to induce G-d’s favor or at least not demonstrate ingratitude that would keep G-d from dispensing favor. On the other hand if G-d is simply a force that you can link into, like tapping the power grid, no judgement is made no exchange is required. You simply do those things that establish the linkage and the benefits flow.

    • #10
    • October 20, 2019, at 1:45 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  11. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Rodin (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn:

    Many Reform Jews have a deep belief in a God that is not literal or theistic, but rather is more mystical or spiritual.

    Could someone explain what the bolded sentence means?

    I think the concept is one of making things happen versus providing some source of power to enable humans to make something happen. If your vision is a G-d that makes things happen, then you are engaging in an exchange — a quid pro quo — to induce the use of the power of your behalf. Performing rituals and demonstrating devotion, making prayers, are examples of things that humans do to induce G-d’s favor or at least not demonstrate ingratitude that would keep G-d from dispensing favor. On the other hand if G-d is simply a force that you can link into, like tapping the power grid, no judgement is made no exchange is required. You simply do those things that establish the linkage and the benefits flow.

    I think that the latter is certainly true for the Left. It goes along with the view of entitlement–even from G-d. No serious commitment required. Thanks, @rodin.

    • #11
    • October 20, 2019, at 1:49 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  12. Saint Augustine Member

    Susan Quinn: Could someone explain what the bolded sentence means?

    Not I.

    I think I understand the idea that mystical might be an antonym to literal. A word like allegorical would have been clearer. If mystical has some other meaning than allegorical, I can’t even guessn what it is.

    Spiritual as an antonym to theistic is a new one. Theism normally is all about spirituality. Maybe this dude associates spirituality with pantheism?

    • #12
    • October 20, 2019, at 3:47 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  13. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: Could someone explain what the bolded sentence means?

    Not I.

    I think I understand the idea that mystical might be an antonym to literal. A word like allegorical would have been clearer. If mystical has some other meaning than allegorical, I can’t even guessn what it is.

    Spiritual as an antonym to theistic is a new one. Theism normally is all about spirituality. Maybe this dude associates spirituality with pantheism?

    I think their main goal is to avoid speaking of G-d, St. A. Mystical might be talking about altered states (which can happen with or without G-d) or bliss. They don’t need G-d to feel that way. And they are missing so much. Sigh.

    • #13
    • October 20, 2019, at 3:56 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  14. Kay of MT Member

    I always believed in G-d, just never knew where he was, as whenever I asked was given a different answer. Then had an ESP experience about age 11 or 12, and never again doubted there was G-d, and that he cared. It took me until I was grown to find out about Judaism. I studied with a Reformed Rabbi, for 5 years, before I converted and he certainly believed in G-d.

    In my genealogy researching discovered my Jewish roots, and have male cousins whose DNA is from Sephardi Jews of “The Isle of Rhodes,”. My grandfather told my mother that we were Jews when we came to the colonies approximately in 1680s.

    This past year one of these cousins, 18 year old grandson, found his mother’s roots from the Ukraine and is planning to leave after high school to Israel on the Birthright program. He currently attends a Chabad Synagogue in Salt Lake City, where he studies while finishing high school.

    • #14
    • October 20, 2019, at 4:04 PM PST
    • 9 likes
  15. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Kay of MT (View Comment):

    I always believed in G-d, just never knew where he was, as whenever I asked was given a different answer. Then had an ESP experience about age 11 or 12, and never again doubted there was G-d, and that he cared. It took me until I was grown to find out about Judaism. I studied with a Reformed Rabbi, for 5 years, before I converted and he certainly believed in G-d.

    In my genealogy researching discovered my Jewish roots, and have male cousins whose DNA is from Sephardi Jews of “The Isle of Rhodes,”. My grandfather told my mother that we were Jews when we came to the colonies approximately in 1680s.

    This past year one of these cousins, 18 year old grandson, found his mother’s roots from the Ukraine and is planning to leave after high school to Israel on the Birthright program. He currently attends a Chabad Synagogue in Salt Lake City, where he studies while finishing high school.

    How wonderful, Kay!

    • #15
    • October 20, 2019, at 4:46 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  16. mikegre Lincoln

    We are all on a globe traveling through the empty void of space at 60,000 mph. To retain our equilibrium, we have to believe in something. For some it’s G-d. For others Gaia.

    • #16
    • October 20, 2019, at 5:06 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  17. Richard Easton Member

    MarciN (View Comment):

    I don’t know what the future holds for Christianity either. It is not being passed down to children. Even a simple belief in G-d seems too much for the Left to bear.

    When I was a volunteer ten years ago, I saw so many children in public schools who didn’t even know that G-d exists and was there for them. I’m upset about it because I had a sometimes problematic childhood–as all children do. But unlike the parents of children today, my parents belonged to a church (the Congregational church–they had grown up in the Baptist church but left it as young adults), and because of that and Sunday school, if I was ever scared or worried, I knew I could talk to G-d. My knowledge of the scriptures is pathetically nonexistent, but I at least have always known they were there, and I certainly have always been consoled or encouraged or whatever else I have ever needed by prayer. I have never felt alone in the world, the way so many of the kids do today.

    I read a really funny column years ago by the humorist Art Buchwald when the debate was raging about taking prayer out of the schools. I agreed with Buchwald that prayer needed to go because having the kids pray together was fueling the Catholic-Protestant war: the Catholics crossed themselves and stopped speaking before the Protestants got to the end of the prayer. Let the playground wars commence! At any rate, Buchwald wrote, paraphrasing from memory, “People are afraid that the kids won’t pray anymore. Are you kidding? Listen to the whispered prayers on test days!”

    Neither Art Buchwald nor I could ever have envisioned what the secular school of today looks like–how absent G-d is from the life of children who do not have a strong religious family, who were exposed to even the most meager of prayers, in their public school classrooms. What we failed to predict was a public square completely devoid of any mention of G-d in any way.

    But why wouldn’t there be a universal decline in church membership? There has been a constant negative image of organized religion promulgated throughout the culture–from schools, textbooks, television shows, and the news media. If you want to destroy a group’s identity, make people ashamed to belong to it. Mention Christianity and the two images that come to people’s mind immediately are the Crusades and the Inquisition.

    The mainline Christian churches are dying. The evangelical Protestant/traditional Catholic Churches are doing better.

    • #17
    • October 20, 2019, at 5:49 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  18. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Richard Easton (View Comment):
    The mainline Christian churches are dying. The evangelical Protestant/traditional Catholic Churches are doing better.

    Do you draw conclusions from those data, @richardeaston? Is it because mainline churches are becoming Leftist (sorry if that’s obvious)?

    • #18
    • October 20, 2019, at 6:09 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  19. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member

    Susan, great post. GrannyDude might have some helpful insight on the situation, as your discussion of the state of belief in Reform Judaism seems similar to her situation in Unitarian Universalism.

    My only contribution is the addition of some data that I happen to recall, from the 2014 Religious Landscape Study by the Pew Research Center (here). The results are pretty bleak for all people of faith, and they’re probably considerably worse today than in 2014.

    Belief in God among Jews is among the lowest in any group:

    37% of Jews were “absolutely certain” (comparisons: 88% of Evangelicals, 66% of Mainline Protestants, 64% of Catholics, 27% of the Unaffiliated (religious “Nones”).

    27% of Jews were “fairly certain” (10% of Evangelicals, 25% of Mainline Protestants, 27% of Catholics, 22% of “Nones.”

    Combining these, the percentage who were absolutely or fairly certain regarding belief in God were: 54% of Jews, 98% of Evangelicals, 91% of Mainline Protestants and Catholics, 49% of “Nones.”

    The results were similar for “importance of religion in one’s life”:

    Jews: Very important 35%; somewhat important 36%; subtotal 71%
    Evangelicals: Very important 79%; somewhat important 17%; subtotal 96%
    Catholics: Very important 58%; somewhat important 32%; subtotal 90%
    Mainlines: Very important 53%; somewhat important 34%; subtotal 87%

    Comparing these two results does support part of your thesis, Susan. “Belief in God” and “importance of religion in one’s life” are almost identical among Evangelicals, Catholics, and Mainline Protestants. But 71% of Jews said that religion is important in one’s life, while only 54% believe in God. That’s a pretty big gap, and perhaps represents the Reform Judaism folks (or some of them).

    Attendance at religious service at least once a week shows a wider divide:

    Jews 19%; Evangelicals 58%; Catholics 39%; Mainline 33%

    There is a lot of other interesting information at the Pew poll page. I only picked a few major groups for comparison. There are many other religions and denominations included, and other questions asked.

    • #19
    • October 20, 2019, at 6:51 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  20. Richard Easton Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Richard Easton (View Comment):
    The mainline Christian churches are dying. The evangelical Protestant/traditional Catholic Churches are doing better.

    Do you draw conclusions from those data, @richardeaston? Is it because mainline churches are becoming Leftist (sorry if that’s obvious)?

    At a certain point, people or their children must wonder why they’re attending church at all when all they hear is leftist politics. I think the nones are coming from this group. I was raised in a conventional, slightly sleepy PCUSA church. When I got converted, I left that and now attend a PCA church.

    • #20
    • October 20, 2019, at 7:10 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  21. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Richard Easton (View Comment):
    The mainline Christian churches are dying. The evangelical Protestant/traditional Catholic Churches are doing better.

    Do you draw conclusions from those data, @richardeaston? Is it because mainline churches are becoming Leftist (sorry if that’s obvious)?

    Richard, the Pew results above (#19) do not show that the Catholics are doing much better than the Mainlines. Catholic numbers may not be declining much, due to immigration, but that’s probably not going to last.

    Susan, I think that you’re pointing to a complicated chicken-or-egg phenomenon. I think that the three major components are: (1) belief in God; (2) belief in the authority of Scripture; and (3) political Leftism. I think that there’s a downward spiral in effect — a decline in belief in the authority of Scripture causes a decline in the belief in God, which causes increased Leftism, which causes a further decline in belief in the authority of Scripture.

    It’s a bit tough to trace this back, in Christianity. I think that the most important cause was an initial decline in belief in the authority of Scripture, with two causes: (1) the (so-called) Enlightenment, which was a challenge to all authority, and (2) 19th Century Biblical scholarship, called Textual Analysis, that concluded (erroneously) that Scripture was not written until long after the events that it reported. There was an independent effect of the Scientific Revolution on the belief in God, as the Scientific Revolution is based on an atheistic materialist world view.

    The Textual Analysis is interesting, but complicated. The basic conclusion, principally by a set of 19th Century German scholars called the “Tubingen School” (after the University of Tubingen), was that the New Testament was written between 100 and 250 years after the events it reports, and is therefore unreliable. This was actually proven incorrect by the subsequent discovery of earlier fragments, and modern Textual Analysis agrees on very early dates for the composition of the New Testament (generally between the late 40s and around 90 AD, for the various books, well within the lifetimes of the witnesses).

    However, this error persists. I recall hearing Douglas Murray finding Christianity implausible because of the discoveries of 19th Century German scholars. He did not specify what he meant — and I would love to ask him — but I think that he does not realize that these claims were proven false by later developments. 

    He should know better than to rely on any 19th Century German intellectuals, though.

    [Cont’d]

     

    • #21
    • October 20, 2019, at 7:39 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  22. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member

    Susan, this might interest you more than the New Testament stuff. Old Testament Textual Analysis generally concludes that the Old Testament was principally written during the Babylonian Captivity (around 600-530 BC), with a few older portions written during the reign of Josiah, one of the last Kings of Judah (and a really great king — around 650-610 BC).

    An aside about Josiah — in his Daily Wire mailbag this week, Michael Knowles was asked to pick his favorite king. I thought of three — David, Hezekiah, and Josiah. I ultimately settled on Josiah. (I interpreted the question to mean earthly King, so I didn’t pick you-know-who.)

    I think that these dates are probably correct, but I reject the conclusion that some scholars draw — that the Old Testament was essentially a mythology made up centuries after the events reported, and therefore unreliable. I think that it makes perfect sense that it was compiled at these times, around 650-530 BC.

    The reason that Josiah is such a great king is that he followed Manasseh, a horrid king. Manasseh had a very long reign, and was so bad that the Israelites completely forgot their faith, and had even lost the Torah. It was rediscovered early in Josiah’s reign, and he led a magnificent, if forlorn, restoration. The Exile followed a few years later.

    The Jews would have lost almost everything in the Exile, and would have had to recompile the bulk of the Old Testament. They did so, and I am confident that they did so correctly (though this is a matter of faith). Thus, we have the Torah, and Joshua through Kings, and the wonderful Ruth and Job, and the magnificent Psalms, and two books of Solomon’s wisdom (plus that erotic love poem that is so strange in the middle of the Bible!).

    Some books, of course, were composed during the Captivity or later, including Daniel and Ezekiel (both exiles themselves), plus Esther and Ezra and Nehemiah, and probably Chronicles.

    Great stuff.

    • #22
    • October 20, 2019, at 7:41 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  23. Instugator Thatcher

    James Gawron (View Comment):
    I really think that people have fallen for the lie that religion isn’t an important part of your life.

    While it absolutely is an important part of life. Look at the effort people make to separate their garbage into “recycling” categories. It is like prayer for some folks.

    • #23
    • October 20, 2019, at 8:30 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  24. Clifford A. Brown Contributor

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    For an FBI report on Hate Crimes, including Judaism, click here.

    I wish they would also compile per capita stats. Looking up separate estimates for the same year, it looks like there are a bit less than twice as many Jews as Muslims in the U.S. population but 938 reported crimes against Jews as Jews versus 273 against Muslims. If both groups were targeted at the same rate per capita, there should be “only” around 550 reported crimes against Jews as Jews.

    • #24
    • October 20, 2019, at 9:41 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  25. RufusRJones Member

    James Gawron (View Comment):
    Susan, first I really think that people have fallen for the lie that religion isn’t an important part of your life.

    BINGO

     

    Who says it’s a big deal to kill someone and take their stuff? I just don’t buy it that by observation and thinking you are going to have a productive and moral society. You have to get it from a God that says there will be punishment if you don’t act civilly or whatever. People like screwing with people and taking their stuff. That is just a fact. 

    I think all of this centralized government, supranational governing systems, and Keynesianism are bad in this sense. Then the left wants to believe you get your rights from big government. It’s not going to work.

     

     

    • #25
    • October 21, 2019, at 2:31 AM PST
    • 8 likes
  26. Aaron Miller Member

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: Could someone explain what the bolded sentence means?

    Not I.

    I think I understand the idea that mystical might be an antonym to literal. A word like allegorical would have been clearer. If mystical has some other meaning than allegorical, I can’t even guessn what it is.

    Spiritual as an antonym to theistic is a new one. Theism normally is all about spirituality. Maybe this dude associates spirituality with pantheism?

    “Spiritual” as used by people who identify as such usually implies belief in non-physical elements (spirits, energies, or both) but without a formal theology. Excepting crystal users and such pseudo-scientific theories of predictable energy exchanges (magic), spiritualists tend to have only disjointed, often vague, and individual ideas about the interactions of the physical and spiritual. They are almost always skeptical of organized religion. 

    “Mysticism” is used similarly, if not interchangeably, outside of Judaism and Christianity.

    A Catholic mystic is (maybe) one who shares common dogmas but places much faith and focus on observable spiritual interactions in this life. All Catholics should believe in prayer, souls, angels, and the sacraments. Catholic mystics devote extraordinary attention to intangible interactions and often claim miraculous experiences, such as dreaming visions or conversations with God. Mother Angelica, founder of EWTN, occasionally peppered her no-nonsense preaching with tales of such conversations. As usual, New Advent is a helpful place to start. 

    • #26
    • October 21, 2019, at 5:00 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  27. Saint Augustine Member

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: Could someone explain what the bolded sentence means?

    Not I.

    I think I understand the idea that mystical might be an antonym to literal. A word like allegorical would have been clearer. If mystical has some other meaning than allegorical, I can’t even guessn what it is.

    Spiritual as an antonym to theistic is a new one. Theism normally is all about spirituality. Maybe this dude associates spirituality with pantheism?

    “Spiritual” as used by people who identify as such usually implies belief in non-physical elements (spirits, energies, or both) but without a formal theology. Excepting crystal users and such pseudo-scientific theories of predictable energy exchanges (magic), spiritualists tend to have only disjointed, often vague, and individual ideas about the interactions of the physical and spiritual. They are almost always skeptical of organized religion.

    “Mysticism” is used similarly, if not interchangeably, outside of Judaism and Christianity.

    A Catholic mystic is (maybe) one who shares common dogmas but places much faith and focus on observable spiritual interactions in this life. All Catholics should believe in prayer, souls, angels, and the sacraments. Catholic mystics devote extraordinary attention to intangible interactions and often claim miraculous experiences, such as dreaming visions or conversations with God. Mother Angelica, founder of EWTN, occasionally peppered her no-nonsense preaching with tales of such conversations. As usual, New Advent is a helpful place to start.

    Right on, right on. Keep up the good work!

    • #27
    • October 21, 2019, at 5:13 AM PST
    • 1 like
  28. RufusRJones Member

    Some Jews are pretty serious about Kabbalah, too. 

    • #28
    • October 21, 2019, at 5:15 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  29. Aaron Miller Member

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    For an FBI report on Hate Crimes, including Judaism, click here.

    I wish they would also compile per capita stats. Looking up separate estimates for the same year, it looks like there are a bit less than twice as many Jews as Muslims in the U.S. population but 938 reported crimes against Jews as Jews versus 273 against Muslims. If both groups were targeted at the same rate per capita, there should be “only” around 550 reported crimes against Jews as Jews.

    I’m skeptical of all such statistics.

    First, they are similar to drunk driving statistics which assume that any alcohol involved was the primary cause without considering all causes in balance. If someone uses a derogatory term for Jews in a fit of anger, that does not certainly indicate that he hates Jews (and is not just lashing out with the most hurtful word available), much less that anti-Semitism was the cause of his crime. If someone vandalizes a church or a mosque, it might be for hate of the particular religion; or it might be hate of organized religions generally, hate of a particular preacher, or just some idiot getting a thrill out of doing the most outrageous thing he could impulsively think up during a binge of drinking. 

    My church still has a bullet hole through a decorative window from years ago. Was it a “hate crime”? Nobody knows. It might be no more significant an act of vandalism than kids spray-painting walls and train cars. 

    Second, many who track such statistics are grievance mongers, typically of the Left, with a history of questionable claims. We all see more of what we expect to see, of what we actively look for. A professional advocate for a victim group whose ideology (progressivism) makes victimhood a core pillar of life is especially prone to view minor incidents as significant attacks. 

    I believe anti-Semitism has historically been a bellweather for society’s decay. It’s worth watching and counteracting. But I don’t trust the FBI or ADL’s figures any more than personal anecdotes. 

    • #29
    • October 21, 2019, at 5:24 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  30. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):
    I believe anti-Semitism has historically been a bellweather for society’s decay. It’s worth watching and counteracting. But I don’t trust the FBI or ADL’s figures any more than personal anecdotes. 

    I tend to agree with you, @aaronmiller. It’s a dilemma, though: how are we to track that decay without some kind of numbers?

    • #30
    • October 21, 2019, at 5:38 AM PST
    • 2 likes
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