1. Standard memberBosse de Nage
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    18 Jul '05 11:13
    Suicide bombing is faith and devotion in its purest form. Gainsay it if you will.
  2. Donationkirksey957
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    18 Jul '05 11:24
    Originally posted by Bosse de Nage
    Suicide bombing is faith and devotion in its purest form. Gainsay it if you will.
    Say some more.
  3. Standard memberBosse de Nage
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    18 Jul '05 11:58
    The act of high-explosive martyrdom, which also calls for courage and selflessness, requires pure, blind faith, without which it would be tantamount to murder and stupidity.
  4. Donationkirksey957
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    18 Jul '05 12:11
    Originally posted by Bosse de Nage
    The act of high-explosive martyrdom, which also calls for courage and selflessness, requires pure, blind faith, without which it would be tantamount to murder and stupidity.
    For me, a "pure, blind faith" is nothing more than a cult. That is why I feel faith should have some element of healthy doubt and skeptism.
  5. Standard memberBosse de Nage
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    18 Jul '05 12:18
    Originally posted by kirksey957
    For me, a "pure, blind faith" is nothing more than a cult. That is why I feel faith should have some element of healthy doubt and skeptism.
    If you were Abraham, you'd have failed your test.
  6. Hmmm . . .
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    18 Jul '05 12:58
    Originally posted by Bosse de Nage
    If you were Abraham, you'd have failed your test.
    According to one Jewish exegesis I heard (from a rabbi), Abraham did fail the test—no “righteous man” (tzaddik) would sacrifice his child, even if God commanded it.

    Another take on the story might be that ha elohim, “the gods” tested Abraham by telling him to sacrifice Isaac. Elohim is a plural form that is used for God (sort of like the “royal We” ), but can also mean other gods. Abraham acted faithfully to the God of Israel when he obeyed the angel of YHVH, and did not sacrifice Isaac. When YHVH says in Genesis 22:12, “…for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me," he may have simply been conceding Abraham’s—misguided—faithfulness, even in Abraham’s confusion about who was who, in terms of the divine. In this passage, “God” is also Elohim, but without the definite article.

    You might have to wrench the text a bit, but 1) Jewish exegesis seems willing to do that (“Israel,” after all, means one who “wrestles” with God, not one who blindly submits), and 2) the text of Genesis may not have come down to us in “pure form.”

    In Kabbalistic understanding, Elohim represents the harsher side of God (gevurah), while YHVH represents the compassionate side of God (chesed).

    So, there are lots of possible “takes” on the story—but the Jewish understanding is pretty uniform in seeing it as a story whose ultimate point is to do away with sacrificing children.
  7. Standard memberBosse de Nage
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    18 Jul '05 13:05
    Thanks for an excellent post. And thank the Lord for Jewish exegesis. Every church should have a rabbi.

    Weird how the bloodthirsty murderer-god I see when I look into the OT through eyes weakened by Christianity changes in Kabbalistic light.

    I wonder if Islam has an equivalent to wrestling with God.



  8. Hmmm . . .
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    18 Jul '05 13:522 edits
    Originally posted by Bosse de Nage
    Thanks for an excellent post. And thank the Lord for Jewish exegesis. Every church should have a rabbi.

    Weird how the bloodthirsty murderer-god I see when I look into the OT through eyes weakened by Christianity changes in Kabbalis ...[text shortened]... I wonder if Islam has an equivalent to wrestling with God.



    I wonder if Islam has an equivalent to wrestling with God.

    Thank you for the compliment.

    The thing about Jewish exegesis is that there is no “one and only right understanding” of the text. Imaginative exploration is encouraged.

    Re Islam: I don’t think so, even among the Sufis. Islam literally means submission (or surrender) in peace. I liken it to the third step of AA (and other 12-step programs): “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.” They’re just different “existential” perspectives. I couldn’t begin to say which one is “right.” But there is this from the Qur’an: “…We have made their own activities [with regard to how God is understood and invoked] appear alluring to each community. In time, to their Sustainer they must return; and then He will make them understand the truth of all that they were doing.” (From Surah 6:108, translated by Camille Adams Helminski in The Light of Dawn: Daily readings from the Holy Qur’an; my brackets, referencing the context. NOTE: The "We" and the "He" both refer to God; the Qur'an often mingles the pronouns through the text.)

    Do I need to add that I think suicide bombing (and murder/terrorism in general) is abhorrent, horrible, perverted and cannot be justified by any reference to religious faith?
  9. Standard memberPalynka
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    18 Jul '05 14:19
    Originally posted by vistesd
    According to one Jewish exegesis I heard (from a rabbi), Abraham did fail the test—no “righteous man” (tzaddik) would sacrifice his child, even if God commanded it.

    Another take on the story might be that ha elohim, “the gods” tested Abraham by telling him to sacrifice Isaac. Elohim is a plural form that is used for God (sort of like t ...[text shortened]... uniform in seeing it as a story whose ultimate point is to do away with sacrificing children.
    It appears to me that the take you refer is too far-fetched.

    In my opinion, that looks like someone trying too hard to find a way to wriggle himself out of an embarassing part of the scriptures. A part that describes his God as something he does not appreciate.

    The ammount of wrestling that needs to be done with that text to come up with such an explanation would render the whole texts useless, as every text could be wrestled into the explanation one desires.

    I agree interpretation plays an important role in such texts, but surely there is a limit.
  10. Standard memberKellyJay
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    18 Jul '05 14:55
    Originally posted by Bosse de Nage
    The act of high-explosive martyrdom, which also calls for courage and selflessness, requires pure, blind faith, without which it would be tantamount to murder and stupidity.
    What stops that from being murder, the fact that the person doing it
    was doing it out of 'blind faith?' Why would that matter, why it is not
    simply tantamount to murder and stupidity?
    Kelly
  11. Hmmm . . .
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    18 Jul '05 15:13
    Originally posted by Palynka
    It appears to me that the take you refer is too far-fetched.

    In my opinion, that looks like someone trying too hard to find a way to wriggle himself out of an embarassing part of the scriptures. A part that describes his God as something he does not appreciate.

    The ammount of wrestling that needs to be done with that text to come up with such an explan ...[text shortened]... s.

    I agree interpretation plays an important role in such texts, but surely there is a limit.
    You might be right. It depends on how you view the text: something to be deciphered to find the “true” meaning (whether historical, or whatever), or as a “texture” for imaginative exploration. Rabbinic Judaism (perhaps as far back as the second or third century BCE) has consistently adopted the second approach. There has no doubt been an apologetic element to it; but there is also no rule about offering only “apologetic” interpretations.

    It is such a paradigmatic shift away from the “deciphering” approach (or the plain, “literal” reading) of most western hermeneutics, that most people in that paradigm have difficulty accepting the “legitimacy” of any other approach, including the midrashic/talmudic. “You mean you get to remake the stories any way you want?” “Yep. Pretty much. That’s what they’re there for.” I mean, who argues over the “true” meaning” of an Aesop’s fable, or a Zen koan—and yet those, too, were intended to “embody” (many) meaning(s).

    The Talmudic dictum “It [the Torah and its interpretation] is not in heaven!” asserts a basically humanistic approach to hermeneutics. I’m not asking you to accept it. Just to recognize that rabbinical Judaism is not just the “religion of the Old Testament,” as many (most?) Christians seem to assume it is; it is the religion of the “dual Torah,” i.e., written and oral. And also just to see that it’s not the same “game” as the one played by biblical-literalist-fundamentalists.

    Now, given the nature of the text, and the unusual usage of ha elohim, I don’t think my exegesis is that far-fetched at all; that is, it is supportable by a close reading of the text. And that’s all I did: a close reading. Now, I am likely to range farther than, say, an Orthodox Jew. It was a Reform Rabbi who gave the first “Abraham failed the test, simple as that,” exegesis. (BTW, that’s not very “apologetic” for “our father Abraham.” ) He would undoubtedly get an argument from someone else; essentially, Jews are supposed to argue over the meaning of the text, and not simply accept anyone else’s interpretation. From a Talmudic perspective, if you don’t bring your imagination and creativity to the text, you’re not bringing yourself, and if you allow the text (or someone’s interpretation of it) to simply “dictate” meaning to you, you’re not properly wrestling with the text as, not only a religious, but also an existential exercise.

    It’s just another paradigm. Accept it or reject it. Just don’t assume that Jews read the written Torah in any way like Christians, and then levy the same arguments that you would against Christian theists. Far more honest to simply say, “As an atheist, I reject all the religious texts, good or bad.”
  12. Standard memberPalynka
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    18 Jul '05 15:32
    Originally posted by vistesd
    It’s just another paradigm. Accept it or reject it. Just don’t assume that Jews read the written Torah in any way like Christians, and then levy the same arguments that you would against Christian theists. Far more honest to simply say, “As an atheist, I reject all the religious texts, good or bad.”
    I'm sorry, but the accusation of dishonesty is uncalled for. I never said I didn't reject all religions texts. I do, but what has that got to do with my point?

    I find the way of interpreting the scriptures you described a cop-out. A way to look behind the logical flaws and indirectly say that there is no flaw in the scriptures, only flaws in interpretations. If the current interpretation is wrong, one merely has to change the interpretations ad infinitum.

    Any sufficiently large enough text would do for that matter. It can even have contradictions, all one needs to find is an interpretation that goes against its literal meaning that suits our current needs.
  13. Standard memberBosse de Nage
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    18 Jul '05 15:57
    Originally posted by Palynka
    Any sufficiently large enough text would do for that matter. It can even have contradictions, all one needs to find is an interpretation that goes against its literal meaning that suits our current needs.
    [/b]
    This is how law used to operate in Republican Rome: legal fictions were devised whenever the law of the 12 Tables, which could not be altered, needed tweaking to suit contemporary needs.

    I'm all for an open-ended religious text. (Hinduism is one religion for which contradiction can be a virtue).

    That being said, Palynka, with your preference for logic above contradiction, would you agree that a suicide bomber is an exemplary embodiment of religious faith?
  14. Hmmm . . .
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    18 Jul '05 16:00
    Originally posted by Palynka
    I'm sorry, but the accusation of dishonesty is uncalled for. I never said I didn't reject all religions texts. I do, but what has that got to do with my point?

    I find the way of interpreting the scriptures you described a cop-out. A way to look behind the logical flaws and indirectly say that there is no flaw in the scriptures, only flaws in interpretat ...[text shortened]... find is an interpretation that goes against its literal meaning that suits our current needs.
    First, an apology. I did not mean to imply that you are dishonest. I absolutely do not think you are—but that was terribly put on my part, and I apologize for it.

    Any sufficiently large enough text would do for that matter. It can even have contradictions, all one needs to find is an interpretation that goes against its literal meaning that suits our current needs.

    You’re undoubtedly right here. And I will concede that part of the attempt in the midrashic approach may have been to “save the text”—certainly it is done within the assumed framework of religious Judaism. However, the idea that some sort of “literal” meaning is what the text is supposed to provide seems to have been rejected long ago by Judaism. To turn it around, looking for the “literal” meaning of the text is what they would generally find to be the non-normative (for lack of a better term) approach. I mean, a rabbi might ask, “Why are you looking for a “literal” meaning? What purpose does that serve?” Of, course, I think looking for historical content about people’s religion and culture does serve a purpose, as does frogstomp’s mythological investigations—but a lot of what’s in there is story and myth, and a lot of it is all mingled together.

    My only point is to demonstrate that there is more than one approach to reading these texts, and that looking for the historical or literal meaning—or any other—only becomes normative in relation to my purpose for reading it. It is not, independent of my purpose as a reader, normative in any absolute sense. That’s really my only point.
  15. Standard memberHalitose
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    18 Jul '05 18:41
    In the case of Islam, dying in Holy War or Ji'had, is the only way you can be assured of reaching paradise.

    For the Muslim this is the ultimate act of obedience to Allah and his prophet.

    Of course there is the added benifit that you will have 70 virgins waiting for you when you enter paradise.
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