Wednesday, December 21, 2005

 

The Two Cultures

Not the sciences and the humanities in this post, but Judaism and Christianity.

There is an old humorous observation that Jews "observe" holidays while Gentiles "celebrate" them, and like many such observations, there is a grain of truth to it (even if we Jews certainly do celebrate Simchas Torah, for example).

This certainly is quite funny, but it also highlights that difference between how Jews "observe" holidays and Christians "celebrate" them. Many of us Jews are quite puzzled as to how some Christians seem to feel Christmas is so important that restrictions on it in the public square are tantimount to an anti-Christian tilt by the state and that it is so important to keep "Christ" in Christmas even as these same Christians, while they may go to Church on Christmas night or morning, by and large celebrate the holiday in a manner free from specific religious rituals. While to these Christians, their celebration of Christmas is exactly how Christmas is supposed to be and indeed may honor the birth of Jesus, the lack of specific "laws" regarding Christmas makes us Jews think, at some level, that even those Christians who are so adamant about fighting wars to save Christmas don't really take the holiday seriously.

But we should give people the benefit of the doubt, even when we disagree with them. To a Christian, that we Jews would celebrate Christmas like this is a sign of how ridiculously legalistic we Jews are in equating holiness with ritual. But Christians perhaps should remember that, as natural as their way of celebrating holidays is to them, many people view their lack of legalism and formality about their ritual practice to be a sign that they do not take their holiday seriously. This causes us to wonder what the fuss is about when some of them get so worked up about "the war on Christmas". In this season of too many misunderstandings -- among family together for the holidays, among people of different faiths, etc. -- let's all try to remember that we all have different ways of approaching God and not to judge people for being too legalistic or too flippant about how they do so.

We are enriched by our diversity. We must remember that.

Comments:
I'm still trying to figure out why some Christians are so easily overcome by delusions of persecution.
 
I'm still trying to figure out why some Christians are so easily overcome by delusions of persecution. - dadobot

It's wishful thinking. Remember, Christians believe that blessings come to the "poor in spirit", the meek, etc.

All and all the beatitudes are a very powerful work to ponder. But a certain kind of person is greedy and wants blessings on the cheep (heck, I don't blame them -- I probably am that kind of person! 8) fortunately, my religion has some quick and dirty ways of getting blessed and having free food at the same time! e.g. going to a wedding). And since Christianity says blessings go to the "poor in spirit", the meek, etc. and the persecuted, and since being poor in spirit, meek, etc. are states of being that are hard to change without, at least, giving up your comfortable place in society (part of Jesus' point -- comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable -- many miss the second part even though it's clearly part of Jesus' message!), these "Christians" figure that the only way they can get blessings is if they are persecuted.

So hence these delusions of persecution are a kind of wishful thinking -- thinking they are being blessed by being persecuted even if neither the persecution nor the blessings are being obtained.
 
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