Turned backs on serious study

“Many in the church have turned their back on serious study, and have embraced an anti-intellectualism which refuses to learn anything from scholarship at all lest it corrupt their pure faith. It is time to end this stand-off, and to re-establish a hermeneutic of trust (itself a sign of the gospel!) in place of the hermeneutic of suspicion which the church has so disastrously borrowed from the postmodern world around”

Wright, N. T. (2005). Scripture and the Authority of God (p. 99). London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.

Is reading the Bible necessary?

Many who call themselves Christian do like to follow Augustine, even more than Christ. they do agree with him that reading the Bible is no longer necessary once God had fully cultivated faith, hope, and love in us (On Christian Doctrine, 1.39). In other words, according to them, once we are mature in Christ, the Bible is no longer necessary.  In this way, the difficulties in this ancient text are not first off problems to be solved, but opportunities to grow.

People may not forget that God has given the world His Word for a very good reason. It should be seen as our best guide and way to the future.

God is like a wise parent who wants us to grow in maturity and gain the skills necessary for life.  God wants us to come to know Him, but also wants us to know ourselevs and to put ourselves in the light to others, and placing ourself in the universe.

God is like a wise parent who gives freedom and responsibility so that we can learn to handle life like “mature, well-functioning adults”. His wise words and the history of mankind, as presented in the Book of books, the Bible, can help us to grow and to mature. > Therefore we have all the more reason to regularly read the Bible and to continually think about the Word of God.

Where people find meaning in life

Pew Research Center asked thousands of Americans where they find meaning in life. Their responses were rich, thoughtful and varied. Here are just a few examples of what they told us…

“That’s a gosh darn big question for a survey like this, I’m used to the check boxes. I find meaning in career, family, spiritual and hobbies aspects of my life. Those are the things that keep me going and areas that I develop goals and look to improve.”

I honestly think goals are very important in life. But people constantly also need new stimuli. Having a good focus also helps people staying on a path where they can tackle the difficulties in a reasonable way.

one person reacted:

“My family is the focus of my life. I feel like I should have said Christianity; however, that is a given for me, underlying and surrounding everything in my life. My greatest joy comes from my loved ones.”

Family was the most common topic Americans mentioned when talking about what keeps them going. Two-thirds (69%) brought up their spouse or romantic partner, children, grandchildren or simply “family” in general.

Surroundings do a lot for having an interesting and acceptable or a detestable life. But even when not living in good surroundings a person is able to make the best of his life, when he is willing to invest in his own personality.

One person wrote

“I look at meaning a little differently. I believe meaning is something we build into our lives; by our successes, failures and experiences. I do not feel meaning can be found but must be created.”

Though some did not see so much in their life to have them going or to keep them going.

Nothing keeps me going, I just do. No meaning at all. Too many stupid people in life to deal with, that cause constant negative consequences. Many of them in positions of power. I would find meaning in life from anything that would remove their influence from my life!

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It would be nice to live according to my being rather than my blackness. I will never know how a totally worthwhile life will feel because of this.

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Read more:

What keeps us going

 

Human nature designed for love

GOD DESIGNED HUMAN NATURE FOR LOVE 

By Jesse Morrell
Everything God created has a function and a design.

God created human nature.

Therefore, human nature has a proper function and a design.

What is the proper function that human nature was designed by God for?

“For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves”

Romans 2:14

The proper function of a thing is determined by its design.

When a thing operates according to its design, it functions properly and orderly.

When it malfunctions, it violates its design and is in a state of disorder.

Our moral obligations (how we should function properly) are according to the design of our human nature.

We were created to love God and love our neighbor. We were designed for love. Love is our proper function.

A holy man is simply a man who lives according to his true human nature – the way God designed mankind to live.

Sin is a malfunction – a violation of our design.

Sin has damaging affects upon our soul, heart, mind, and body precisely because it is a violation of our design.

Our world is in a state of disorder because men choose by their free will to violate their God given nature, just like Adam and Eve did.

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection [ἄστοργος: inhuman, unloving], trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”

2 Timothy 3:1-5

Emphasis: without natural affection [ἄστοργος: inhuman, unloving]

It’s natural and human to be loving.

It is unnatural and inhuman to be unloving.

Human nature was designed by God for love.

Trump Dragging the Jews and Israel into the scrum, using both as one more weapon in his racist rants.

President Trump, long a trafficker in anti-Semitic stereotypes, treated American Jews to a classic anti-Semitic canard Tuesday afternoon. When asked about two Congresswomen, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, who had been barred from Israel at Trump’s own behest, he broke out an oldie but a goodie from the closet of anti-Semitic tropes.

“Any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat, I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty,” President Trump told reporters.

Per Trump, Jews are and should be loyal to Israel rather the United States; to show their loyalty, they should vote for a Republican.

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Read more:

This Week Proves It: Politicians Won’t Call Out Anti-Semitism On Their Own Side

New York Jewish Museum’s Discomfort with Religion

The Jewish Museum of New York her latest core exhibition reveals a distance from Judaism indistinguishable from disregard, embarrassment, and disdain.

Menachem Wecker’s essay on Scenes from the Collection, the latest permanent exhibition at the Jewish Museum of New York, talks about the city’s venerable 115-year-old Jewish Museum. Its collection of about 30,000 objects makes this among the most important such institutions anywhere and, according to its website, one of the oldest remaining Jewish museums in the world.

Downstairs, at the museum’s outlet of Russ & Daughters café, customers devouring the herring, knishes, and blintzes are assured that everything on the — also venerable — menu is under kosher supervision.

But for him

Upstairs, however, is a different story. With its recent, ballyhooed revamping of its permanent exhibition, the museum has squandered a priceless opportunity to be the hub for contemporary Jewish conversation, education, and memory. In so doing, it has also departed drastically from its founding mission as a champion of Jewish culture and practice.

Wecker, a relatively young man, is in possession of a Jewish education that is probably atypical of most of the museum’s visitors. By contrast, the art historian who has served as the director of several museums, as Assistant Secretary for museums at the Smithsonian Institutions, and as director of the museum program at the National Endowment for the Arts, Tom L. Freudenheim is a senior citizen who according to his response at the exhibition, risks sounding like the character of the Grumpy Old Man played by Dana Carvey on the old Saturday Night Live — the kind who carries on about how much better things were in the past, and that’s the way we liked it.

He writes in the Jewish magazine Mosaic

In truth, though, I can’t say I really liked it better growing up in a world of Jews who still lowered their voices to whisper the word “Jewish” in restaurant conversations, or who swelled with unseemly pride when the 1950 recording by Pete Seeger and the Weavers of the Israeli folk song Tzena, Tzena, Tzena gave “us” temporary standing on the Hit Parade.

Nowadays, to judge by sources like the 2013 Pew survey, American Jews are less self-conscious about being Jewish. But are they, really? Could it be, instead, that their self-consciousness just runs in directions more in line with today’s rather than yesterday’s cultural norms? Wecker’s ruminations and strictures about the Jewish Museum’s “Jewish problem” — evidenced by its wildly overdone distancing of itself from any taint of “parochialism,” together with its marked condescension toward Judaism itself — invite speculation.

 

There is some history here. When the Jewish Museum first moved toward displaying contemporary art lacking any palpable connection to Jews or Judaism, it was partly following in the  footsteps of Karl Schwarz, the director of Berlin’s Jewish Museum: an institution that opened in 1933 around the same time that Hitler seized power and closed five years later after Kristallnacht. Schwarz’s idea, then quite original, was that, along with showcasing the “material culture” of the Jewish past — ritual objects, books, and other artifacts — a Jewish museum might legitimately start to pay attention to the work of living Jewish artists.

Two decades later in New York, with its transformational 1957 exhibition Artists of the New York School: Second Generation, the Jewish Museum both adopted Schwarz’s idea and went beyond it to include work by contemporary non-Jews and, as often as not, on non-Jewish themes. It thereby established a model that in one form or another continues to this day and that, to be fair, has resulted in a number of remarkable and occasionally even ground-breaking shows.

In doing so, the museum hardly escaped controversy or, especially, conflict with the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS), its founding institution and proprietor. In 1947, as Wecker notes, with the opening of the museum in its then-new home on Fifth Avenue, JTS’s chancellor Louis Finkelstein defined its mission as the preservation and celebration of

“the singular beauty of Jewish life, as ordained in the laws of Moses, developed in the Talmud, and embellished in tradition.”

By the 1960s, it had become known instead, and with reason, mainly as an influential venue for the artistic avant-garde.

That transformation needed to be rationalized, and an argument for it was quickly developed. The new argument went like this:

Jews were a cosmopolitan people, interested by definition in a wide range of ideas and areas of cultural creativity both within and outside of the Jewish world.

Often adduced in this context was the example of Commentary magazine, founded in 1945 by the American Jewish Committee as a high-level forum of discussion of both Jewish and non-Jewish issues by writers and thinkers — what we now call “public intellectuals” — many but not all of whom were themselves Jews. Especially after Norman Podhoretz was appointed editor of Commentary in 1960, the magazine’s existence and success were invoked to justify JTS’s support for influential exhibitions at the Jewish Museum less and less related to the vision articulated in 1947 by Louis Finkelstein.

 

Such exhibitions flourished in the mid-1960s under the brief directorships of Alan Solomon and Sam Hunter, years that happened to coincide with my own tenure at the museum as a young curator, aspiring art historian, and ex-rabbinical student. Partly owing to the last-named credential, no doubt, I ended up being responsible for the “Jewish” parts of the museum, and soon became well-acquainted with its by-then considerable collections of Judaica of all kinds — collections that were then, and remain today, second only to the holdings of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

And this brings me back to Scenes from the Collection, so skillfully picked apart by Wecker. I concur with most of his criticisms of the exhibition’s substance. With regard to its presentation of, in particular, material related directly to Jewish religious traditions or values, he is certainly correct to point to the organizers’ shoddy scholarship and connoisseurship. I would only underline his point by stressing that museums thrive or wither not only on the visions of their directors but on the ideas, interests, ambitions, dreams, and scholarship of their curators. (Susan Braunstein, the museum’s longtime Judaica curator, retired some months ago and, although remaining on staff part-time in an emerita position, has yet to be replaced.)

As a counterexample to the latest “core” exhibition, Wecker writes with some enthusiasm about its 1990s predecessor, Culture and Continuity: The Jewish Journey, which indeed went far toward restoring the focus on the “Jewish” in Jewish Museum. I was never a great fan of that show for one simple reason: at its outset, visitors were invited to ask how Jews had survived for so many centuries and millennia, and were promised that the exhibition would answer that question. In fact, it’s sheer museological vanity to suggest that Jewish survival can be understood via Judaism’s material culture alone.

This stipulation aside, however, the conceptual premise of Culture and Continuity was solidly based: the Jewish Museum does indeed house any number of important works of Judaica — its field of specialty — that cannot be seen anywhere else. Indeed, the same principle underlies permanent exhibitions in most museums. Which is not to say that collections don’t also get temporarily rearranged to suit a curator’s creative idea, or some practical exigency. (For example, parts of the 17th-century Dutch collections in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art are currently on view in a two-year special exhibition because of skylight renovations in the main galleries.) But that is secondary, not primary. Permanent exhibitions are all about the core: how, in the end, a museum identifies and presents itself.

 

Where does the Jewish Museum fit here? For me, the real scandal today is that a collection of such size, quality, and historical importance has been reduced from the museum’s main attraction to a resource only for special exhibitions like the airily named Scenes from the Collection. Evidently, in the museum’s current thinking, the core works in its collection are to be seen only in the context of thematic and temporary special exhibitions like this one, surrounded by works of tangential, or arbitrary, or opaque relevance. This rethinking, to put it bluntly, can only reflect a disdain for the museum’s core assets on the part of the institution’s leadership (both the staff and the trustees).

Among those core assets are not only the thousands of items in the collection but the self-understanding of Judaism itself. In his essay, Wecker raises serious questions about the attitude toward Judaism held by the museum’s leaders and stewards. Here, too, a larger cultural phenomenon may be seen at work: namely, a pervasive discomfort, or embarrassment, manifested by many art museums these days, when it comes to Western religion. For obvious reasons, Christianity is the prime example. To take the Met once again, but hardly the Met alone, the reigning but incorrect assumption appears to be that everyone knows the meaning of Christian devotional art, that everyone can readily identify saints by their visual attributes, and that everyone can “read” the allusions and symbols in paintings of the Madonna or the Crucifixion.

Of course that is not the case: many if not most Christians are as ignorant of their religious traditions as are most Jews. Why, then, the silence? After all, explication is available for “exotic” religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and so forth). Only with Christianity and, at the Jewish Museum, with Judaism is a fastidious distance observed — a distance indistinguishable from indifference or, again, discomfort, embarrassment, and disrespect. In each case, the result is an abdication of the opportunity and the responsibility to educate the public about some of the greatest and most important works of Western art.

Tom L. Freudenheim ends with saying

I’m a reasonably well-educated but not especially religiously observant Jew. Nevertheless, like many other Jews, I’m wholly unembarrassed to lay claim to my Jewishness, not only as a matter of ethnic pride but also in my being a legatee of a venerable and quite awesome religious tradition.

American Jews can rightly be proud of, among other things, the Jewish museums that their communities have developed and supported, and that have in turn served as models for other ethnic and group-based museums around the country. As Edward Rothstein, quoted by Wecker, has acutely observed, those many museums spawned by the Jewish example make a point of celebrating the unique traditions and values of their particular sponsoring groups. By contrast (with exceptions, like UC Berkeley’s Magnes Museum), Jews have deracinated their own museums to the point of flaunting not only an ignorance of the Jewish tradition but a disdain for it.

Menachem Wecker gives us example after example from Scenes from the Collection of the feckless and philistine lengths to which the Jewish Museum has gone in its dereliction from its elementary responsibility. Is it too much to propose that the accolades the museum so desperately craves from the art-world cognoscenti might be gained without totally reducing the “Jewish” in its name to the slim and increasingly fraying threads by which it remains connected to its tradition?

What Tolerance really means

In this world we can see that less and less tolerance is given by people. Lots of Christians and fundamentalist religious groups want to take the crown for not tolerating others to live with them or in their neighbourhood.

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To remember

“Tolerance: Willingness to accept behaviour and beliefs which are different from your own.”

  • you will always see people who behave or believe differently from you => In order to coexist harmoniously with such people, you should be willing to accept such different behaviour or beliefs, if they cannot be changed.
  • changing someone’s behaviour or beliefs =  influence operating word, not force.

Victors' Corner

WHAT TOLERANCE REALLY MEANS
By Victor Uyanwanne
13/03/2015

I have always been interested in learning new words and I have usually made conscious effort towards achieving that aim. I remember way back in school when we were much younger when we used to keep “New Words and Meaning” notebooks as a deliberate strategy to enhance our knowledge of English words. Those notebooks were really helpful then in building our capacity to understanding English as a second language.

Somehow, I have carried the habit of learning new words into my adult life, but with a different strategy. Thanks to the revolution in ICT! For instance, I subscribed to an offer by my telecom service provider to send me one new English word and its meaning, every day. I have been enjoying this service for years now without fail. This service has afforded me a convenient medium of learning the meaning of…

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