Sunday, November 30, 2008

if we really controlled the media we wouldn't have this problem

You know how completely nuts it made you to here people – maybe even people you knew, maybe even people you were related to, say things like Obama got half of his money from the Arabs, or that he was secretly a Moslem? Because there’s nothing you can say when people have so internalized a story written by the opposition that they don’t even realize that it’s not common knowledge, let alone that it’s not true. For them, there is no argument; you’ve lost before you’ve begun.
Well, I felt that way just the other day. But it had nothing to do with Obama, and it wasn’t from yokels. It was this:
In the Abrahamic tradition, our sense of God has evolved. For example, the Israelites, 4,500 years ago, had Yahweh, who was a ferocious warrior, a law-giving God. That's a very different god than the one that Jesus spoke of, a God of love. So our sense of God just in the Abrahamic tradition has evolved.

This is Stewart Hoffman, by way of Andrew Sullivan. It’s the standard story, the spin, created by Christian theologians as a slightly less inflammatory version of the deicide charge, but with the same message: Jewish religion bad, Christian religion, good.
It’s nonsense, of course, as anyone who’s spent time either with the original texts or modern scholars know – the images of God in both the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament are complex and multifaceted, each containing vengeance and love, justice and mercy. But because the spinners have been dominating the discourse, the spin has become taken for granted.
And so neither Hoffman nor Sullivan need to actually study the various scriptures, let alone read the scholarship; they “know” the story because it’s part of the common cultural baggage. And what makes it especially frustrating is that Hoffman has some really interesting things to say; he's a serious, creative thinker. But when it comes to the Bible the two of them are just repeating the partisan narrative: Obama is a closet Moslem, I mean, the Christians worship Love while the Jews worship Vengeance.

1 comment:

Abby said...

It is a pity Kauffman is so ignorant of Judaism as to characterize the Jewish God as he does. In the passage quoted by Sullivan, he made a very ill-informed choice of words. His point, however, is that evolution occurs in many spheres: biological, philosophical, economic, psychological, etc. and that these systems are not static. With that, I agree and I think that Rabbinic tradition also agrees.