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artschooldropout

An interesting article on faux-Judaism in fundie circles

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artschooldropout

http://www.religiondispatches.org/dispa ... implified/

 

 

Quote
Kaell is right that Messianic Judaism is changing American evangelicalism. (Once called “Hebraic Christian,†“Messianic Jew†is a label than can refer to a Jew who, essentially, becomes a Christian and still follows selected Christian-adapted Jewish rituals, but believes in Jesus as the Messiah, or an evangelical Christian who adopts the label and adds selected Christian-adapted Jewish rituals to their religious life. Often both types are in the same congregation.) Whether it has the power to “strip Jewish people†of their own traditions is, for some Jews, a scary proposition. It may very well be, though, that this phenomenon is much more powerfully changing evangelicals’ perception of Judaism than it is changing Jews’ perception of themselves.
Edited by OnceUponATime
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gardenvarietycitizen

Interesting article. It reminds me of three themes I find myself thinking about from time to time just as an outsider who spends quite a bit of time lurking on Jewish boards, reading about Christian fundies and American right-wing politicians of various sorts, and who gets into discussions about cultural appropriation elsewhere.

(1) The "Judeo-Christian" term that gets tossed around all the time by the right-wing politicians, usually as a way to trumpet right-wing supposedly religiously proper politics while making sure to keep those Muslims firmly in the Other category. The amusing part to me is that the term is SUCH a one-way valve. It's Christians (usually evangelical) who trot out "Judeo-Christian" all the time, you don't find Jewish articles using it much if at all, and the few times you do find it, it's generally someone who's been taken in by some rightwing economic theories posting about economics and using the term to make the old "this is why the West is better" type arguments.

"Religions of the book" or "Abrahamic religions" doesn't have this problem, there's not the "us us us" identity claiming going on and it's a more outsider descriptive term.

(2) Cultural appropriation, of course. The "Fake Rabbi Showdown" article linked from your article makes it obvious... but yeah the appropriation going on is just wacky and it's every bit as out there as all those people claiming to be Indian princesses and wearing headdresses and all the rest of it.

To use that analogy, Christians adopting fake wacky versions of originally Jewish cultural practices won't take those practices away from anyone, but those appropriators end up making themselves supposedly the voice for authenticity and acting like they are in some sort of authority, and because they're more accessible (to other Christians) and they get featured in the mainstream press, mainstream people start believing the nonsense and the original real stuff gets buried in the sea of fake, and then you might have people hearing "Jewish" and thinking "woah, you wrap yourself in Torah scrolls at the weekend?" or whatever else craziness. Worse yet one of these fakers will start telling someone with actual background that they're doing it wrong or that hey we've improved on your culture, you should change. Eff that.

Learning about stuff from actual Jewish people, as an outsider, and saying "I like this practice, I might allow it to influence my own life practices but I will always acknowledge that that is what I'm doing, I'm not in any way getting back to my original roots" is something else, and normal.

(3) I get the idea that the evangelicals are saying (in the article) that "there must be more than just grace and a pledge" type things, that they want ritual, they want customs that would set them obviously apart that they can take pride in. Okay. But! If they're looking for roots from former versions of Christianity, you'd think they'd hit on the CATHOLIC "bells and smells" stuff or various Orthodox practices before running to Judaism. "Oh but we have serious faith differences with them..." well okay, but surely they're less utterly HUGE than the differences with Judaism, starting with the whole Jesus divinity thing?

And of course the hilarity of adopting modern Rabbinic Jewish practices as if they're somehow the same thing as was practiced by people before Christianity split off is just very much lolwut?

(Though, many of these people are the same ones who don't understand how "humans and monkeys both diverged from a common ancestor" is not the same thing as "humans evolved from modern monkeys" so YMMV... :lol:)

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Dandruff

The essential belief of Christianity (that Jesus is the divine Messiah) contradicts the beliefs of Judaism. Some evangelicals may find Jewish traditions interesting and meaningful but this doesn't make them Jewish, nor does it take anything away from those who are. But I guess they'll keep trying.

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stonefruit

There are very few people on whom I wish violence, but I would lose no sleep at all were Jews for Jesus to go ahead and wrap their cars around a bunch of telephone poles.

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Hane
The essential belief of Christianity (that Jesus is the divine Messiah) contradicts the beliefs of Judaism. Some evangelicals may find Jewish traditions interesting and meaningful but this doesn't make them Jewish, nor does it take anything away from those who are. But I guess they'll keep trying.

Yes, indeed. This reminds me of the way a local rabbi opened his talk at an ecumenical discussion night at my church: "We may share a common belief in God, but we do not share a common theology." He was quite emphatic, and shocked some audience members--particularly the Bible-toting Baptists in the front row. When they asked him of the role of Jesus in Judaism, he said, "Jesus is irrelevant to Judaism," and they damn near dropped dead.

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rward

Some of it, I think, stems from the fundy Christian belief that Jews are the original "children of god" and Christians are the adoptees, so to speak. (They actually use the term "adopted".) It seems to make them oddly jealous of Jews, and they try to appropriate anything Jewish they can as a result, including tzitzit, challah, shofar, seders, etc.

It's very peculiar.

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gardenvarietycitizen
Some of it, I think, stems from the fundy Christian belief that Jews are the original "children of god" and Christians are the adoptees, so to speak. (They actually use the term "adopted".) It seems to make them oddly jealous of Jews, and they try to appropriate anything Jewish they can as a result, including tzitzit, challah, shofar, seders, etc.

It's very peculiar.

This too, never mind all the outlying groups which have as part of their foundation stories the idea that current world-recognized "normal" Jewish people are not actually the Israelites or the chosen people at all, but rather usurpers, and the real inheritors of God's chosen people are their own specific group.

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VooDooChild

If a sincere Christian is "keeping Torah" as an honest way of having a closer relationship to God, reasoning that Jesus was Jewish and he kept the feasts and all, then I see no problem. But those who do it to follow trends or add to their special snowflake-ness, well, I see how that can be offensive.

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Joan of Snarc

Yes, indeed. This reminds me of the way a local rabbi opened his talk at an ecumenical discussion night at my church: "We may share a common belief in God, but we do not share a common theology." He was quite emphatic, and shocked some audience members--particularly the Bible-toting Baptists in the front row. When they asked him of the role of Jesus in Judaism, he said, "Jesus is irrelevant to Judaism," and they damn near dropped dead.

Was this news to them? I'm confused; what role did they think Jesus plays in Judaism?

ETA: As I recall, Jesus is considered a prophet in Judaism, is that correct?

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GeoBQn
If a sincere Christian is "keeping Torah" as an honest way of having a closer relationship to God, reasoning that Jesus was Jewish and he kept the feasts and all, then I see no problem. But those who do it to follow trends or add to their special snowflake-ness, well, I see how that can be offensive.

I still have a problem with it. My religion does not exist to be a tool for Christians to understand Jesus better.

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yewchapel

I still have a problem with it. My religion does not exist to be a tool for Christians to understand Jesus better.

But - Jesus was Jewish. There is no way of getting away from that. Jesus was circumsized, wore tzitzit and celebrated Chanukkah ('feast of dedication' mentioned in John's gospel). The Tanakh is in our Bible too. I am a Christian, I have no Jewish lineage of my own, but I cannot ignore the fact that my faith has a common history with Judaism. I can't help the fact that Judaism helps me to understand Jesus better. Also, there are groups such as Seventh Day Adventists who follow the Hebrew food laws and the Saturday Sabbath, but are not doing it to 'steal' anything from Jewish people.

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Guest Anonymous

But - Jesus was Jewish. There is no way of getting away from that. Jesus was circumsized, wore tzitzit and celebrated Chanukkah ('feast of dedication' mentioned in John's gospel). The Tanakh is in our Bible too. I am a Christian, I have no Jewish lineage of my own, but I cannot ignore the fact that my faith has a common history with Judaism. I can't help the fact that Judaism helps me to understand Jesus better. Also, there are groups such as Seventh Day Adventists who follow the Hebrew food laws and the Saturday Sabbath, but are not doing it to 'steal' anything from Jewish people.

'Jesus was Jewish' seems like a stunningly vague and distant connection to justify cultural appropriation, especially when you remember that the Judaism of Jesus's day was so very different from today's Judaism and when you take into account the long history of Christians victimizing Jews.

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GeoBQn

But - Jesus was Jewish. There is no way of getting away from that. Jesus was circumsized, wore tzitzit and celebrated Chanukkah ('feast of dedication' mentioned in John's gospel). The Tanakh is in our Bible too. I am a Christian, I have no Jewish lineage of my own, but I cannot ignore the fact that my faith has a common history with Judaism. I can't help the fact that Judaism helps me to understand Jesus better. Also, there are groups such as Seventh Day Adventists who follow the Hebrew food laws and the Saturday Sabbath, but are not doing it to 'steal' anything from Jewish people.

It's one thing to research and be knowledgeable about the historical connection between Jesus and Judaism. It's another for Christians to actually "keep Torah"--which they are not commanded to do, and which they often do with absolutely no input from actual Jews, and which they often do with rituals from Rabbinic Judaism that began several hundred years after Jesus lived.

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yewchapel

As far as I know, SDA do not use Rabbinic Jewish rituals and just avoid pork etc. And let me make myself clear - I am not 'Torah-observant', don't do these 'Christian seders' for Passover which I agree are appropriative, don't do anything outside Christian rituals. But the claim that Christianity and Judaism have nothing in common is patently untrue. Jesus is irrelevant to Jews, sure, but Jews aren't irrelevant to Christians. I'm no Zionist so it's not to do with support for modern Israel, but simply the historical connection. Of course, cultural appropriation and anti-semitism are wrong, and I don't do either of those things. But I can't help the Jewish history of my faith, that's not my fault. I do not support Faux Jews in their cultural appropriation and I condemn it, just don't tar all Christians who are aware of the Jewish history of Christianity with the same brush.

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VooDooChild

It's one thing to research and be knowledgeable about the historical connection between Jesus and Judaism. It's another for Christians to actually "keep Torah"--which they are not commanded to do, and which they often do with absolutely no input from actual Jews, and which they often do with rituals from Rabbinic Judaism that began several hundred years after Jesus lived.

GeoBQn, can you help me better understand why you have a problem with it. I think these Christians interpret the OT commands to keep the laws as applying to them because they follow the God of Abraham, also. Jesus is just the sacrifice that justified them before God. This is my understanding anyway. I don't believe this to be the case at all, however when you say you have a problem with Christians practicing parts of your religion it comes across to me as if you somehow forbid anybody not Jewish access to your God. I don't think the God of the Bible would forbid anybody who wants to worship him regardless of their lineage. Please understand that I am not trying to be a jerk or confrontational. I am not Jewish and am an ex-Christian, so I am just trying to understand why you are offended if somebody is sincere, not at all fundie, nor trying to convert Jews.

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stonefruit
ETA: As I recall, Jesus is considered a prophet in Judaism, is that correct?

Not at all. Jesus is emphatically not viewed as a prophet in Judaism.

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Megan
Was this news to them? I'm confused; what role did they think Jesus plays in Judaism?

ETA: As I recall, Jesus is considered a prophet in Judaism, is that correct?

Jesus is a prophet in Islam. Jesus has no role in Judaism.

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Joan of Snarc

Thanks. That's what I was thinking at first, and then I psyched myself out thinking he had some role.

:doh:

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mockingbird

I thought that Jesus abolished the need to "keep Torah" with his two new commandments (love God and love others as you would love yourself). I thought he was trying to get away from all of the trappings of the rules because the Pharisees were abusing those rules for their own power instead of focusing on the core values of their religion. At least I guess that is the Catholic perspective.

I think where it's not appropriative is if the Jewish traditions are part of your family's tradition, like growing up in an interfaith marriage between both a Christian and a Jew and then continuing both traditions as an adult, or something like that. Or a Christian friend/relative being invited to a Jewish person's celebrations.

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gardenvarietycitizen

I obviously can't speak for GeoBQn. But just from the general cultural appropriation angle, what makes something cultural appropriation that members of the original culture will take offense at - there's a line where the borrowers start acting as if they have a true lineage and history back to the root, and therefore have the ability to lay a claim that their tradition should be considered legitimate in the original tradition.

Jesus (or Yoshke, if you will) appeared, did his thing, and the culture he was from REJECTED HIM. He (maybe? Or his followers after the fact?) said he was the messiah, but the community rejected that, they said NO, HE ISN'T. That was a bright line in the sand, you're cut off from the mainstream. So Christianity becomes its own thing, and 2000 years go on.

Now, if some of the descendants of the line that was explicitly rejected and CUT OFF to the point where plenty of currently religious Jewish people have a problem even saying the name of that supposed messiah (hence the "Yoshke" thing) start showing up and adopting rituals that are fairly recent but came from the lines that stayed faithful to the original, and saying somehow it's relevant because, well, Yoshke was a Jew and so therefore he maybe would be cool with it? yeah I can see how that would be offensive.

Purely from a generic "what is cultural appropriation?" sort of view. (I am not Jewish.)

The Seventh-Day Adventists who follow some laws from Leviticus, they don't get such hate because that admit that's what they're doing, going back to the texts, they're not putting on prayer shawls or the like.

Meanwhile, there's plenty of appreciation for the story of Exodus in Christian circles where it relates to the civil rights movement, because of the (true to the original!!) freedom from slavery themes, and that too is 100% fine, because it's relating to the story in the original sense and about ancestors prior to the big split. But making the seder to be something about the trinity, heck yeah that would be offensive.

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VooDooChild

:ugeek:

I obviously can't speak for GeoBQn. But just from the general cultural appropriation angle, what makes something cultural appropriation that members of the original culture will take offense at - there's a line where the borrowers start acting as if they have a true lineage and history back to the root, and therefore have the ability to lay a claim that their tradition should be considered legitimate in the original tradition.

Jesus (or Yoshke, if you will) appeared, did his thing, and the culture he was from REJECTED HIM. He (maybe? Or his followers after the fact?) said he was the messiah, but the community rejected that, they said NO, HE ISN'T. That was a bright line in the sand, you're cut off from the mainstream. So Christianity becomes its own thing, and 2000 years go on.

Now, if some of the descendants of the line that was explicitly rejected and CUT OFF to the point where plenty of currently religious Jewish people have a problem even saying the name of that supposed messiah (hence the "Yoshke" thing) start showing up and adopting rituals that are fairly recent but came from the lines that stayed faithful to the original, and saying somehow it's relevant because, well, Yoshke was a Jew and so therefore he maybe would be cool with it? yeah I can see how that would be offensive

Purely from a generic "what is cultural appropriation?" sort of view. (I am not Jewish.)

The Seventh-Day Adventists who follow some laws from Leviticus, they don't get such hate because that admit that's what they're doing, going back to the texts, they're not putting on prayer shawls or the like.

Meanwhile, there's plenty of appreciation for the story of Exodus in Christian circles where it relates to the civil rights movement, because of the (true to the original!!) freedom from slavery themes, and that too is 100% fine, because it's relating to the story in the original sense and about ancestors prior to the big split. But making the seder to be something about the trinity, heck yeah that would be offensive.

Ok. I guess my difficulty in understanding came from thinking they were doing it because they are sincerely trying to be obedient. Maybe that is the case for some, and I can't begrudge them that. But if they're trying to become a Jew...well, that would be impossible.

Would it be offensive to convert to Judaism? I ask because my bestie in high school was Jewish, and at the time I had entertained conversion. Neither her or her family seem offended and I was always welcomed at Temple. So, I'm curious how others feel about conversion. Thanks.

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gardenvarietycitizen

As far as I know no one outside of certain VERY restricted sects is against anyone converting to Judaism (2013 Judaism) with the aim of becoming normal 2013-era Jewish.

But if people think they are going to be able to continue to believe in Jesus as messiah while becoming Jewish, they're likely to have a harsh wake-up call. We've snarked on some people attempting that before.

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VooDooChild

Lol! Yeah, I get that it is dumb to try to convert and be Christian at the same time. It just made sense to me that Christians believing in a Jewish Messiah and observing feasts because he did was not neccessarily a bad thing. That is, of they are sincere and not fundie. You know, like it is their own personal thing. Not a zomg! Lets save the Jews! I'm a speshul snowflake! kinda thing. Am I making any sense? I should go to bed. I fear I'm being obtuse and offensive. That's not how I want to come across. Thanks for explaining it to me.

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GeoBQn

Sorry for not answering questions, I was out performing in the Vagina Monologues. Sold out crowd, woo!

Anyway, VooDooChild, a lot of people said things that were similar to what I would have said. In regards to "cutting off access to my G-d"--Jews, Christians, and Muslims all believe in the same G-d. However, Jews do not believe that you have to be Jewish to have a place in the world to come. Jews believe that non-Jews have to follow only 7 commandments (while Jews have to follow 613 commandments). From a Jewish perspective, it does not make sense for Christians to follow Jewish rituals because Christians are not obligated to follow Jewish law and they will likely get into heaven/paradise/whatever just doing what they already do. From a Christian perspective, it doesn't make sense to do rituals in an effort to be "obedient" because Jesus released his followers from the obligation to follow Jewish law.

Add into the "not necessary and not making sense " is the cultural appropriation. Along with what other people said about the subject, there is the idea that while it can be disrespectful in general, it is especially egregious when the person belongs to the majority culture and is borrowing from the oppressed minority culture. Jews have faced 2000 years of violence at the hands of Christians because they don't believe in Jesus. When Christians do Jewish rituals, it feels like they are doing it without awareness of this history, or like they are trying to pretend that it never happened. When Christians eat matzah at their own seders, do they know that Passover was traditionally a time when violence against Jews would intensify because of the rumor that Jews made matzah out of the blood of Christian children? Even when Christians are being sincere and not malicious about it, it still brings up that history that I just can't forget.

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patsymae

"When Christians do Jewish rituals, it feels like they are doing it without awareness of this history, or like they are trying to pretend that it never happened."

This. Aside from the messianics and those who do rituals in order to convert, there are some well-meaning Christians who attempt to adopt what they think are interfaith ritualsl (Holy Thursday "seders" for example) in an honest attempt to combat anti-Semitism. It's mostly well-meant. It's also about Christians and not about Jews.

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