Gene StecherChambersburg, Pa.Finished reading Near Christianity yesterday. If anyone’s interested in a discussion, here are some statements that jumped out at me:“In Jewish Talmudic studies, the logical possibilities are often valued over decisive conclusions …there is no Pope…there is no systematic finality to defend…” (25)“…it is not uncommon for synagogues in urban settings to employ armed guards.” (40)“When did Christians stop hoping for a way of life in the Land and seek, instead, a way to the afterlife.” (44) “Do those who focus on Jesus’ power tend to see other powerful people as models?” (53)“Advent is a time for remembering and anticipating (62)…without a sense of entitlement.” (76) [Gene’s aside: What is more Jewish than remembering and anticipating?]“I will set Luther’s advice (The Jews and Their Lies) against Elie Wiesel’s memories of the Holocaust (Night).” (92)“What I am suggesting is that God is more like an oncoming truck on a narrow bridge.” (136)“The book of Job teaches that the human mind has not the capacity to reason with God.” (164)“So some manner of friendship is required for vulnerability.” (137)Richard Rubenstein’s book After Aushwitz is still as devastating today as it was when it was first published in 1966.” (138)“…as long as Christians require Israel’s doctrine of election…the Christians will continue to encounter Jews and Judaism as myth and abstraction…we must rediscover to meet…as fellow humans rather than abstract counterparts…” (140-41)“My guess is that most Christians have never considered humor as an identity marker (157) …as contrasted with 42% of Jews.“So while tolerance risks less on a personal level, it risks much more on a civil level.” (180)“God mixes eros and agape to become real to Israel. God chooses…to love in a human way …becomes like a human in many ways.” (184)“There is no word for ‘religion’ (in the Hebrew Bible)…because humankind had no need for the concept prior to the invention of the secular world.” (195)“As one (Jewish) friend told me. ‘We don’t get in (belong) by belief. We can’t get out by disbelief.’” (200)“Ali Abu Awwad…’interfaith dialogue is about creating a secure place for argument.’” (211)
Gene StecherChambersburg, Pa.Hi Anthony, I took the following quote from the interview:"...this book is written for Christians who want to learn something new about Christianity. Becoming self aware, in large part, is about becoming a good listener. Constructive criticism and appreciation from a neighbor who knows you well can be enlightening. I truly believe that this process is essential to becoming a better Christian."How would you react to casting your effort as finding general human truths (casting light onto the world) by examining a specific dynamic?"...this book is written for folks who want to learn something new about humanity. Becoming self aware, in large part, is about becoming a good listener. Constructive criticism and appreciation from a neighbor who knows you well can be enlightening. I truly believe that this process is essential to becoming a better person."
I don't have much to argue with here, Gene. If someone else where to make this claim, I can't imagine that I'd disagree with it.Such a statement wouldn't be specific enough for the purposes of my project. But it's just because of my particular "thrownness" to the world.
Gene StecherChambersburg, Pa.I'll use one of the above quotes to try to stimulate discussion:“When did Christians stop hoping for a way of life in the Land and seek, instead, a way to the afterlife.” (44) This, I submit, happened in the very first generation when the belief in a second coming to cosmically reorder the world as known at that time overcame the move of Jesus to relationally transform accepted cultural realities.The matter of "having a land-life" has been very real all along and is a life that begs to be lived today. It's a matter of living the kingdom behaviors which Jesus advocated, loving one's enemy as being foremost transformative. This isn't just a Jew-Christian contract, it's a contract with all distinctive human entities. The greatest gift of Anthony's book is highlighting a specific cultural dynamic which can be generalized to the condition of humanity. The matter becomes a bit muddled, however, when one insists on a Christian identity. I invite Anthony to consider becoming "a follower of the Jesus way in a life in the land." Forget the word Christian. I submit that this life-way is found in the kingdom behaviors taught by Jesus, the foremost of which is the acceptance of all without judgment. This is not so much passive faith "in" Jesus but adopting the active faith "of" Jesus.
Gene StecherChambersburg, Pa.Upon more reflection, if there is a second edition of Near Christianity, I would ask for much more reflection on the border between Christian and Jew created by the cross. James Carroll had a lot to say about that, of course, in Constantine's Sword: The Church and the Jews (2001).Jesus was only one of tens of thousands of Jews crucified by the Romans. Were each of those lives any less valuable than his? I was looking at various hymns with "cross" themes and began reflecting on The Holy City (1892). One of the verses reads "As the Shadow of a cross arose upon a lonely hill. Jerusalem, Jerusalem." Well, that's not just Jesus' cross shadowing Jerusalem but the crosses of thousands of Jews shadowing Jerusalem. Jesus does not hang alone, and I submit that the border created by his cross becomes destructive if it's shadow blocks out the thousands of other crosses distributed along the line of demarcation.