A Spot at the Kotel Won’t Save Us: A Crisis in American Judaism

Like there are many denominations in Christendom as well in Christianity, man’s world got also so many different divisions in the Judaic world as well people who call themselves Jewish, meaning the race but not being religious and acting against Torah, outsiders should recognise that difference between secular, Zionist-, devout and less devout religious Jews and fundamentalist Jews.

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To remember

  1. In August 2017:  eyes of liberal American Jewish world were fixed on the Kotel.
    leaders of the Conservative, Reform + Reconstructionist movements banded together to demand a mixed-gender space at the Western Wall > clear pushback against  institutional power of ultra-Orthodoxy in Israel.
  2. prominent liberal American Jews threatened to boycott Netanyahu’s government over its refusal to recognize the liberal diaspora.
  3. liberal American Jewish world remains more divided than ever
  4. more American Jews publicly opposing Israel’s occupation of West Bank + Gaza.
  5. masses of Jews are embracing intermarriage + abandoning Israel = death-knell of Jewish peoplehood in America = threaten to dissolve the very ties that make a Jew a Jew.
  6. massive drop-off in support for Israel among American Jewish college students
  7. J.J. Goldberg laments
    “strange metamorphosis of the Jewish spirit over the past century, from hopeful optimism in the face of great suffering to bitterness and suspicion amid plenty…[if], for a half-century after 1917, the dominant mood among Jews in America and Israel alike was one of optimism…in the half-century since 1967, the mood has been increasingly gloomy and cynical.”
  8. Am. Jewry in transition towards a future where communal identity will not be defined by support for Israel, nor will it rest primarily upon markers of blood > decades-long fixation on Israel + endogamy sapped American Jewish identity of the vitality and dynamism it needs to survive.
  9. For too long, mainstream Jewish America turned dictum of Rabbi Hillel on its head
  10. beginning to shake loose inherited normative frameworks +evolve in exciting new directions => New American Jewish identity
  11. Jewish college students supporting BDS + identifying as anti- or non-Zionist.
  12. IfNotNow + Open Hillel publicly + proudly oppose Israel’s occupation as Jews.
  13. Mirroring trends across the Jewish world, many from mixed families + having non-Jewish partners <= no less Jewish than predecessors = product of American Jewish assimilation

Doikayt

(originally published in Tikkun)

“Remember the days of the world; understand the years of each generation” (Devarim, 32:7)

“…that [we] may turn the heart of the fathers back through the children, and the heart of the children back through their fathers” (Malachi, 3:24)

Last month, the eyes of the liberal American Jewish world were fixed on the Kotel. In a rare display of unity and resolve, leaders of the Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist movements banded together to demand a mixed-gender space at the Western Wall, in a clear pushback against the institutional power of ultra-Orthodoxy in Israel. So deep were we stung by this bitter betrayal, that for the first time in living memory, prominent liberal American Jews even threatened to boycott Netanyahu’s government over its refusal to recognize the liberal diaspora.

And yet, even as we are united in condemnation of ultra-Orthodox fundamentalism, the liberal American Jewish world…

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Grootste misverstand over de islam

In de Volkskrant kwam de Iraans/Amerikaanse Reza Aslan aan het woord. Hij kreeg grote bekendheid in 2013 toen hij op Fox News geïnterviewd werd over zijn bestseller De zeloot – Het leven van Jezus van Nazareth en de geboorte van een religie. Presentator Lauren Green vroeg zich af waarom Aslan, een moslim, in hemelsnaam een boek zou schrijven over Jezus. Hij legde uit dat hij een godsdienstwetenschapper is en gespecialiseerd in het Nieuwe Testament, en dat hij toevalligerwijs ook moslim is. Maar de Fox-presentator was nog steeds niet tevreden:

‘Maar waarom zou u geïnteresseerd zijn in de grondlegger van het christendom?’

‘Omdat dit mijn werk is’,

reageerde Aslan verbaasd terwijl hij zijn handen op zijn borst klemde, alsof er sprake was van een pijnlijk misverstand.

Indien er een atheïst een boek over Jezus of over God zou geschreven hebben zou niemand er van opkijken, maar een moslim blijkt toch iets heel anders te zijn.

Na dat interview schoot Aslans populariteit omhoog en belandde hij in het centrum van het Amerikaanse islamdebat. Hij werd de knuffelmoslim van Amerika.

Aslan kijkt naar onze wereld en stelt:

‘Er bestaat het idee dat de beleving van de islam op de een of andere manier fundamenteel anders zou zijn dan de beleving van het christen– of jodendom. Dat is niet alleen het grootste misverstand over de islam, maar ook de bron van islamofobie, zowel aan de linker- als de rechterkant van het spectrum. De islam wordt behandeld alsof die uniek is, niet divers en eclectisch, alsof deze religie niet onderhevig is aan verandering en ontwikkeling. Alsof de islam niet bestaat uit duizend variëteiten.

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Vindt ook:

  1. Godsdienstwetenschapper: “Religie is geen keuze, geloof is een keuze”
  2. Mensen zijn gewelddadig niet religies
  3. Gelijk gelovenden
  4. Lees meer in de Volkskrant: Religie is geen keuze, geloof is een keuze

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Why are we surprised when Buddhists are violent?

Dan Arnold & Alicia Turner, New York Times, 5 March 2018

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The Nya Thar Lyaung reclining Buddha is an important religious site in the Bago region of Myanmar. Credit, Frank Bienewald/LightRocket, via Getty Images

While history suggests it is naïve to be surprised that Buddhists are as capable of inhuman cruelty as anyone else, such astonishment is nevertheless widespread — a fact that partly reflects the distinctive history of modern Buddhism. By ‘modern Buddhism,’ we mean not simply Buddhism as it happens to exist in the contemporary world but rather the distinctive new form of Buddhism that emerged in the 19th and 20th centuries. In this period, Buddhist religious leaders, often living under colonial rule in the historically Buddhist countries of Asia, together with Western enthusiasts who eagerly sought their teachings, collectively produced a newly ecumenical form of Buddhism — one that often indifferently drew from the various Buddhist traditions of countries like China, Sri Lanka, Tibet, Japan and Thailand.

This modern form of Buddhism is distinguished by a novel emphasis on meditation and by a corresponding disregard for rituals, relics, rebirth all the other peculiarly ‘religious’ dimensions of history’s many Buddhist traditions. The widespread embrace of modern Buddhism is reflected in familiar statements insisting that Buddhism is not a religion at all but rather (take your pick) a ‘way of life,’ a ‘philosophy’ or (reflecting recent enthusiasm for all things cognitive-scientific) a ‘mind science.’

Buddhism, in such a view, is not exemplified by practices like Japanese funerary rites, Thai amulet-worship or Tibetan oracular rituals but by the blandly nonreligious mindfulness meditation now becoming more ubiquitous even than yoga. To the extent that such deracinated expressions of Buddhist ideas are accepted as defining what Buddhism is, it can indeed be surprising to learn that the world’s Buddhists have, both in past and present, engaged in violence and destruction.

There is, however, no shortage of historical examples of violence in Buddhist societies. Sri Lanka’s long and tragic civil war (1983-2009), for example, involved a great deal of specifically Buddhist nationalism on the part of a Sinhalese majority resentful of the presence of Tamil Hindus in what the former took to be the last bastion of true Buddhism (the ‘island of dharma’). Political violence in modern Thailand, too, has often been inflected by Buddhist involvement, and there is a growing body of scholarly literature on the martial complicity of Buddhist institutions in World War II-era Japanese nationalism. Even the history of the Dalai Lama’s own sect of Tibetan Buddhism includes events like the razing of rival monasteries, and recent decades have seen a controversy centering on a wrathful protector deity believed by some of the Dalai Lama’s fellow religionists to heap destruction on the false teachers of rival sects.

Read the full article in the New York Times.

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A brief history of Stephen Hawking: A legacy of paradox

A brief history of Stephen Hawking:
A legacy of paradox
Stuart Clark, New Scientist, 14 March 2018

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Stephen William Hawking. 1942 – 2018. – Cosmologist, space traveller and hero.

‘I think most physicists would agree that Hawking’s greatest contribution is the prediction that black holes emit radiation,’ says Sean Carroll, a theoretical physicist at the California Institute of Technology. ‘While we still don’t have experimental confirmation that Hawking’s prediction is true, nearly every expert believes he was right.’

Experiments to test Hawking’s prediction are so difficult because the more massive a black hole is, the lower its temperature. For a large black hole – the kind astronomers can study with a telescope – the temperature of the radiation is too insignificant to measure. As Hawking himself often noted, it was for this reason that he was never awarded a Nobel Prize. Still, the prediction was enough to secure him a prime place in the annals of science, and the quantum particles that stream from the black hole’s edge would forever be known as Hawking radiation.

Some have suggested that they should more appropriately be called Bekenstein-Hawking radiation, but Bekenstein himself rejects this. ‘The entropy of a black hole is called Bekenstein-Hawking entropy, which I think is fine. I wrote it down first, Hawking found the numerical value of the constant, so together we found the formula as it is today. The radiation was really Hawking’s work. I had no idea how a black hole could radiate. Hawking brought that out very clearly. So that should be called Hawking radiation.’

The Bekenstein-Hawking entropy equation is the one Hawking asked to have engraved on his tombstone. It represents the ultimate mash-up of physical disciplines because it contains Newton’s constant, which clearly relates to gravity; Planck’s constant, which betrays quantum mechanics at play; the speed of light, the talisman of Einstein’s relativity; and the Boltzmann constant, the herald of thermodynamics.

The presence of these diverse constants hinted at a theory of everything, in which all physics is unified. Furthermore, it strongly corroborated Hawking’s original hunch that understanding black holes would be key in unlocking that deeper theory.

Hawking’s breakthrough may have solved the entropy problem, but it raised an even more difficult problem in its wake. If black holes can radiate, they will eventually evaporate and disappear. So what happens to all the information that fell in? Does it vanish too? If so, it will violate a central tenet of quantum mechanics. On the other hand, if it escapes from the black hole, it will violate Einstein’s theory of relativity. With the discovery of black hole radiation, Hawking had pit the ultimate laws of physics against one another. The black hole information loss paradox had been born.

Hawking staked his position in another ground-breaking and even more contentious paper entitled Breakdown of predictability in gravitational collapse, published in Physical Review D in 1976. He argued that when a black hole radiates away its mass, it does take all of its information with it – despite the fact that quantum mechanics expressly forbids information loss. Soon other physicists would pick sides, for or against this idea, in a debate that continues to this day. Indeed, many feel that information loss is the most pressing obstacle in understanding quantum gravity.

‘Hawking’s 1976 argument that black holes lose information is a towering achievement, perhaps one of the most consequential discoveries on the theoretical side of physics since the subject was invented,’ says Raphael Bousso of the University of California, Berkeley.

Read the full article in the New Scientist.

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Karen Langton on “What makes a good Biblical Scholar or Theologian?”

Always be willing to see your own weaknesses and strengths and know when to seek help.

Always be willing, hoping, to have your argument proved false, but don’t give up.

Reconsider, redesign, and rediscover.

~Karen Langton, Postgraduate Researcher, University of Birmingham

What Steve Bannon really wants

The Muslim Times

Whatdoes Donald Trump want for America? His supporters don’t know. His party doesn’t know. Even he doesn’t know.

If there is a political vision underlying Trumpism, however, the person to ask is not Trump. It’s his éminence grise, Stephen K. Bannon, the chief strategist of the Trump administration.

Bannon transcended his working-class Virginia roots with a stint in the Navy and a degree from Harvard Business School, followed by a career as a Goldman Sachs financier. He moved to Los Angeles to invest in media and entertainment for Goldman, before starting his own investment bank specializing in media. Through a combination of luck (a fallen-through deal left him with a stake in a hit show called Seinfeld) and a knack for voicing outrage, Bannon remade himself as a minor luminary within the far edge of right-wing politics, writing and directing a slew of increasingly conservative…

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These are the alarming parallels between the views of Steve Bannon and those held by Islamist jihadis

Views which do not fit the ideas of Bannon and his entourage are considered by them from the devil and seen as an attack on the liberty of religion, though it are they who want to muzzle those who have an other opinion than they, and are aiming at restrictions in freedom of thought, freedom of religion, and many other liberties our forefathers fought for.

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To remember

  • enemy for Bannon = secularism = responsible for progressively diluting pure Christian ideals with all sorts of modern + postmodern ideologies
  • White House = Steve Bannon’s >Bannon world view > world is in the midst of an epic battle between good + evil,
  • force of pure good = Christian civilisation > Christian society = greatest civilisation known to man

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Preceding

Christian fundamentalists feeding Into the Toxic Partisanship and driving countries into the Dark Ages… #1

Christian fundamentalists feeding Into the Toxic Partisanship and driving countries into the Dark Ages… #2

The Muslim Times

The enemy for Bannon is secularism. This, he believes, is responsible for progressively diluting pure Christian ideals with all sorts of modern and postmodern ideologies

At the time of Trump’s unexpected election victory, there was much speculation over who would really run the US Government, given the incoming President’s notorious lack of patience and attention to detail. Now that question has been answered: this White House is Steve Bannon’s.

The one element that unites every executive order and every speech the President has given since assuming office is theBannon world view. So if we are to understand the trajectory of this new American administration, we need to invest some time in trying to understand Bannon, his outlook, and where he plans to take us next.

Having studied radical Islamists for more than a decade, as I started to look into Bannon’s perspective and philosophies I started to…

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