November 22, 2005

Interfaith Relationships- Jews and Christians Misunderstood Again

There is an ongoing problem with the relationship between Jews and Christians. There is a misunderstanding that exists that is creating numerous issues that are going to need to be dealt with.

I wouldn’t characterize this misunderstanding as being between all Jews and all Christians. I suspect that there are large numbers of both groups who haven’t given a thought to any of this, but I also know that there are many who have and that is part of why I am writing this post.

Boiled down the misunderstanding is along these lines. There are Christians who see Jews working to tear down Christianity, to attack it and try destroy it and there are Jews who see Christians working to destroy Judaism. That my friends is the very simplistic version of this story. There are multiple layers here, but we’ll leave those alone for now.

Part of the impetus for this post was generated by a post by a Christian blogger here. His post was in response to a statement made by Abe Foxman, the national director of the ADL who issued a warning about the attempt to Christianize America. Here is an excerpt:
"Today we face a better financed, more sophisticated, coordinated, unified, energized and organized coalition of groups in opposition to our policy positions on church-state separation than ever before. Their goal is to implement their Christian worldview. To Christianize America. To save us!" he said.

Foxman proceeded to describe the process and to name names: "Major players include Focus On Family. Alliance Defense Fund, the American Family Association, Family Research Council and more. They and other groups have established new organizations and church-based networks, and built infrastructure throughout the country designed to promote traditional Christian values."
I haven't any problem with what Foxman said because my perception is that there is much truth in this. In September I covered a CNN story in which we read about the Southern Baptists and their discussions on how to convert more Jews. In that same post we revisited several Southern Baptist decisions including:

"The Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution in 1996 calling on its members to "direct our energies and resources toward the proclamation of the gospel to the Jewish people."

A 1999 prayer guide by the International Mission Board recommended conversion of Jews to Christianity during their High Holy Days, an effort labeled "offensive and disrespectful" by Jewish leaders.

As recently as 2003 Jewish leaders criticized a Southern Baptist seminary president for saying Christians have a mandate to evangelize Jews just as a surgeon has a responsibility to tell a patient about the presence of a "deadly tumor."

They are just one of the groups that have missionaries in place whose purpose is to witness to Jews for the purpose of conversion. They excuse this by claiming a religious obligation to do so. I am consistently surprised that they are so surprised by how vociferous a protest there is to these actions.

And I have to say that when I read some of the responses to things Foxman and other Jews have said I am most disappointed. Vox Popoli's post irritated me. In it he said about Foxman:
"This guy would have made quite the grand strategist, wouldn't he? With leaders such as these, it's no wonder that Jews always manage to find persecution all over the world. Launching all-out assaults on the overwhelming majority doesn't exactly strike me as the best way to win friends and influence people in any place or time."
If I hear him correctly he suggests that Foxman should be lambasted for having the audacity to question the majority, as if the larger number automatically provided moral superiority, not to mention his foolish remark about persecution. And that is a topic to be grabbed a little later on.

And then within the comments there are all sorts of gems:

Well, maybe if his ancestors hadn't killed Jesus 1975 years ago, he wouldn't have such a guilty conscience...

Mr. Astrosmith, smart boy that you are do you realize how many Jews were murdered or persecuted by your brethren using this allegation and you call us paranoid.

"Of course the reason Christians feel under assault is the largely Jewish and Jewish-led for the last 40 years ACLU/Southern Poverty Law Center have gleefully assembled their ranks of lawyers for a little Christian-bashing and getting Christ out of Christmas and the public and shopping mall spheres. Perhaps that is who Foxman should target. He might also wish a little word with his fellow Brooklyn Jew Michael Newdow who is after the Pledge and getting "in God we trust" removed from public buildings and US currency."

Aside from making unsubstantiated claims old Cedarford seems to be under the misguided impression that trying to see that the Constitution is followed is wrong.

And then within the comments on the Haaretz article there is this little nugget:
"Abraham Foxman is unbelievable! He seeks to destroy the reason America is the ONLY true ally Israel has. The Christian faith is the only reason Israel exists. Oh, by the way, Foxman, do you like not having to run from Kristallnacht, pogroms and Zyklon B? Thank the christians. We are the reason more of your people did not die in the gas chambers.

Foxman should not be fighting the only people that like Jews and go after the people who lust to slaughter Jews: Muslims, especially the Palestinians. Why isn`t he fighting the Palestinians? Doesn`t he know the Abbas and his buddies kill Israelis every day? Doesn't he know that Iran wants to kill every last Israeli?

Don`t bite the hand that feeds you." Jay Stang
Call me crazy, but I don't see any reason to thank someone or grovel for enjoying the same rights as anyone else in the US. And believe it or not, the US is not the only reason that Israel exists. It may have been at one point in time, but that is no longer the case.

Let's circle back to the initial opening in which we talked about misunderstandings. As a member of the minority it is hard for me to see the discrimination that Christians, primarily evangelicals are complaining about.

We live in a country that has a clear definition of the separation of church and state in which we go out of our way to promote pluralism and tolerance for all, not just the majority. That means that courtrooms and other public (read gov't funded) buildings are not decorated with the 10 commandments or other religious paraphenalia. A Buddhist, Hindu or Wiccan should be able to walk into a courthouse, for that matter anyone should be able to walk in and feel comfortable in the knowledge that the law of the land is going to judge them, not some biblical law that they may not believe in.

Students in school are entitled to be educated without being forced to be witnessed to or placed in other uncomfortable situations, based upon nondisriminatory laws.

Private businesses and homes are a different situation. I understand and accept that within these places there could be religious expressions of all kinds. When I go to the mall I expect to the salespeople to use some kind of holiday greeting. Frankly I get tired of everyone wishing me a merry xmas, but ok, I am not surprised by it and I am not even asking that it not happen.

All that I am asking for is an understanding that following the law is not discrimnatory but in our best interests. Our plurality and diversity is an exceptional strength that we can and should draw upon.

This is getting rather long so I'll try and tie it up. For better or for worse there is roughly 2000 years of persecution of Jews by Christians. It really is just within the last 50 years that things have really improved, but within that time frame many of us have still witnessed things that can be seen as an attack on Jews and Judaism and witnessing can be categorized as such.

It is hard to see the majority as having to face the same challenges and even if we accept that they do it is not of the same magnitude.

And that is about it for now. Perhaps I'll come back and try to cover this again at a later date.

,

22 comments:

Stacey said...

Bravo, Jack. Great post. I quite agree with you. And I agree with Foxman.

The Christian right supports Israel for one reason: their salvation. They believe Israel's existence will bring about the (purported) 2nd coming in Christ.

And I also agree with your point about the Christian right's whining that there is an assault on their religion. BS. There is an assault on intolerance and the blending of church and state. Period. They can be Christian all they want, as long as it stays out of govt. offices.

Diveristy. Plurality. Tolerance. This is what makes America great.

Attila said...

I guess you could say I'm more understanding of the religious Christians -- leaving aside the handful of schmucks. They may be a majority, but they get the crap kicked out of them mercilessly everywhere they go, except perhaps in their own churches, so they're a little paranoid, just like us.

I think the dividing line in Christian-Jewish relations is not now vs. 50 years ago. It's America vs. Europe. I have no worries about the so-called religious right, and I really think we Jews can't go around kicking just about the only people who support Israel. When we disagree with them, we should at least be respectful.

In case you're not already bored with this and want to see more of my views, I wrote about the Ryan Church affair in Are Jews, like, doomed?.

Stephen (aka Q) said...

It would certainly be better if Christians and Jews could engage in dialogue, where Christians seek to understand Jews, instead of seeking to convert them.

The core beliefs and values of Christianity all derive from Judaism. The debt Christians therefore owe to Jews is immeasurable.

When the facts get twisted around to where Jews are regarded as inferiors or enemies, that's just sick.
Q

Jack's Shack said...

Stacey,

Thanks.


Attila,

In principle I agree with much of what you say but I have less faith in people than you have because I think that we are treated differently.

And that can be problematic. I don't think that this happens across the board and I don't think that all Christians or Jews are bad people. But experience and logic dictate that it is important to try and maintain equality and a level playing field and when we do not do that it jeopardizes our position in society.

That being said I think that dialogue can lead to improved understanding and fewer issues between us all.

Q,

You said it well.

PsychoToddler said...

Well done, Jack.

Jack's Shack said...

Thanks PT.

The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Jack,

I really don't see this as a Christian vs. Jew thing. Really, I can't think of any other country where Jews and Christians get along better than in the U.S. You often hear the term "Judeo-Christian" in regards to our national heritage and traditions. That's what I am fighting to preserve.

I'm neither Christian nor Jew; nor am I religious. I attend no church. I have a problem with much of organized religion. And I know much about being a minority, because I am an ethnic minority. But I vociferously defend the celebration of RELIGIOUS holidays like Christmas, as we've known it for much of our country's history. The positive contributions to our society by Christians should be preserved. I don't mind letting go of tradition to evolve and progress; so long as that progression is in the right direction. But what I see is America systematically destroying the best part of itself in the name of diversity and multiculturalism and equality. It is misguided. We are destroying AMERICAN CULTURE and its traditions and heritage in some misguided sense of wishing not to offend anyone. There are so many things out there that can offend any one group, yet it is over religion that we battle, because of some silly interpretation of a statement that doesn't even appear in the Constitution: "Separation of Church and State". It's freedom of religious expression; not freedom from.

I hate this erasing of Christian elements from our culture. It impoverishes the rich traditions that we have built. Can you imagine if this eradication happened a hundred years earlier? There'd be no "It's a Wonderful Life"...."Miracle on 34th Street"....why on earth are you offended if someone hands you a Christmas card? Or wishes you Merry Christmas? Can't you just accept the spirit in which those things are issued? What are you so afraid of? It is not proselytizing a religion. The message is "peace and good will on earth, among all men". What the deuces is wrong with that?!? Where is the tolerance for Christianity? The Five Pillars of Islam is taught in public schools in the name of diversity and sensitivity training for other cultures; yet schools can't have a Christmas tree or let kids sing Christmas carols for fear of offending anyone? How about a little tolerance there?!

Sorry...I'm on a rant here...I'm not trying to be rude and I apologize if my thoughts are all jumbled. I'm not trying to write an essay...just brainstorming here.

I grew up in a household where my Dad is atheist and my mom Buddhist. We didn't live in fear of Christianity. We might have celebrated the more commercial aspects of Christmas and Easter, but I was also exposed to the religious meanings as well. So what? It promoted understanding and appreciation and respect for the Christian faith in me. There is great beauty in the story of Jesus. I see the same beauty in a lot of different religions. But if Islam doesn't share an equal footing with Christianity, it's because our country was not founded upon Islamists. Over time, as more and more Muslims integrate themselves to become AMERICAN, their culture and religious heritage will be added to what's already been established here for the past 200 years. But it should not be crammed down our throats in the name of diversity and equality and the desire to make them feel more welcomed. I can't believe there is such an intolerance for public religious expression that crosses that stood in veteran's cemetaries for decades are threatened for removal. Why don't we go ahead and change the names of "Los Angeles", "Sacramento", "Santa Maria", and on and on, because we are so intolerant of any evidence of Christianity?

I have no problems with Hannukah. I don't understand why one feels slighted because it is not as widely celebrated as Christmas. I suppose the next step is to change Christmas from being a federal holiday. This is insane. It is silly. It is making a mountain out of a molehill. Oh, gee...a coworker handed me a Christmas card! Let's get him fired! He offended me! Oh, look: my school wants to have a Christmas party. I feel sooo left out and my feelings hurt![/sarasm]

I don't see this Jew vs. Christian struggle you seem to see. Of course, with your opinion, I might see how that may agititate some of "the religious right".

I think Jews have had no better friend than many of the Christians in this country. With all the anti-Semitism going on in the world, America is the place where Jews and Christians as well as other groups have been the most integrated. Now, I know you can debate that, but really, America has been very successful as a melting pot. Not perfect and we do have a ways to go; but this country has been great! And you can chalk much of that up to the Judeo-Christian values that our Founding Fathers and ancestors have promoted for over 200 years.

Listen to Dennis Prager and Michael Medved.

Amen!

[/rant]

Jack's Shack said...

Hi Wordsmith,

Thanks for coming by my blog. A couple of comments in response to yours.

We are destroying AMERICAN CULTURE and its traditions and heritage in some misguided sense of wishing not to offend anyone.

I don't think that we need to construct a vanilla society in which people cannot be offended, but I am not sure that I agree we are destroying American culture because American Culture is an accumulation of many cultures.

There are so many things out there that can offend any one group, yet it is over religion that we battle, because of some silly interpretation of a statement that doesn't even appear in the Constitution: "Separation of Church and State". It's freedom of religious expression; not freedom from.
The Constitution is not the final say on all matters and wasn't constructed as such. That is why it is open to being amended and interpreted. If it wasn't for that there would still be a legal basis for slavery, regardless of the morality or immorality of it.

I hate this erasing of Christian elements from our culture. It impoverishes the rich traditions that we have built. Can you imagine if this eradication happened a hundred years earlier? There'd be no "It's a Wonderful Life"...."Miracle on 34th Street"

This is kind of a rough spot to ride through because I never watch those movies. They don't mean anything to me.

Star Wars, The Godfather, The Blues Brothers, On The Waterfront, these are movies that mean something to me.

What I am saying is that you used a very subjective topic to make your point and I don't think that it really applies.

why on earth are you offended if someone hands you a Christmas card? Or wishes you Merry Christmas? Can't you just accept the spirit in which those things are issued? What are you so afraid of? It is not proselytizing a religion. The message is "peace and good will on earth, among all men". What the deuces is wrong with that?!?

You realize that the converse of this question is what is wrong with acknowledging that by some estimates there are 30 million people in the US who are Christian and do not celebrate Xmas and that Merry Xmas is not an appropriate remark.

I could mention that there are people who actively proselytize and target nonChristians so it can be hard to distinguish those who just say it and those who have an agenda.

But beyond that for me I can tell you that I have been irritated for years by people asking me to do something nice because of the season.

The season shouldn't have anything to do with being nicer. You should always help people regardless of time of year.

I have no problems with Hannukah. I don't understand why one feels slighted because it is not as widely celebrated as Christmas. I suppose the next step is to change Christmas from being a federal holiday.

Chanukah and Xmas are not equivalent holidays and I am not asking that they receive equal billing. I am not even asking that Xmas not be a federal holiday.

But understand that none of my holidays are federal holidays. if they do not fall on a weekend I take them as my own personal time off.

The Federal Holiday part of this is part of why I do not buy the argument that there is a war against Christians.

Oh, look: my school wants to have a Christmas party. I feel sooo left out and my feelings hurt![/sarasm]

I want religion kept out of school, my own included.

I think Jews have had no better friend than many of the Christians in this country.

You may not have meant it to sound this way, but your last comment is patronizing. I don't need to be patronized. I am not asking for special treatment just the same as any other American.

but really, America has been very successful as a melting pot. Not perfect and we do have a ways to go; but this country has been great!

I agree. But I also think that it is important to celebrate our diversity and to use that as a strength and sometimes I think that we miss that when we emphasize how things should be run based upon majority rule because the majority does not always stand upon the side of justice, righteousness and morality.

Too many examples of this including slavery and racist behavior.

Anyway, I don't think that we are all that far apart in our positions.

The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

I am not sure that I agree we are destroying American culture because American Culture is an accumulation of many cultures.

I agree. But the aspects of American culture that I know and love is being marginalized and methodically eradicated. Not all things should be equal, in my opinion. I think our society has this obsession with trying to make all things equal. Basketball is a tall man's game. Should I complain because I am not on a level playing field? Bad analogy, I know. But I hope it makes some bit of sense in this context.

The Constitution is not the final say on all matters and wasn't constructed as such. That is why it is open to being amended and interpreted. If it wasn't for that there would still be a legal basis for slavery, regardless of the morality or immorality of it.

You know what? I actually agree with those who talk about "a living, breathing document". And since that's the case, if "Originalists" are wrong and those who interpret the Constitution's second Amendment as meaning "separation of Church and State" are right, I'm all for revising it to preserve what I feel is a positive for our country.

This is kind of a rough spot to ride through because I never watch those movies. They don't mean anything to me.

Star Wars, The Godfather, The Blues Brothers, On The Waterfront, these are movies that mean something to me.


Oh, good. Think of the movies I listed, and replace them with your own; then imagine a world where Star Wars or The Godfather might be diminished in societal importance because sci-fi and mobster culture was unfairly overshadowing other pop culture movies, and you'll see how I'm hurting here (^_~)

What I am saying is that you used a very subjective topic to make your point and I don't think that it really applies.


But it does. The legal arguments we've both heard ad nauseam, running circles till we're dizzy and blue in the face. I'm speaking from the heart, why I love the "small things" in life that adds beauty and color to our society. I absolutely love when houses adorn themselves in Christmas lights. The more the merrier, giving a neighborhood a sense of community when they all participate. Now, you may say that has nothing to do with religion, and we can have those things just the same. But to call it "holiday decorations" and not "Christmas decorations" does us all a disservice. It dishonors the religious, for without which there never would have been this magical season, the way we've known it; and all the commercial aspects are deeply intertwined with the religous. Why extract it? It'd be just as wrong if we were to extract the pagan elements that have been absorbed into the Christmas traditions. I don't mind Christmas evolving over time. But I am opposed to the purposeful, strategic elimination of religion from Christmas. Or rather, taking Christmas out of Christmas.


You realize that the converse of this question is what is wrong with acknowledging that by some estimates there are 30 million people in the US who are Christian and do not celebrate Xmas and that Merry Xmas is not an appropriate remark.

And I say there are millions who are not Christian who do celebrate Christmas and those who don't who don't care and never really gave it much thought until groups like the ACLU over the past few decades have made it into such a big issue.

I have known Jewish families by the way who have Christmas trees and who gift-exchange in the spirit of Christmas. It is the road to tolerance when you are able to share in another man's cultural heritage without closing yourself off from it.

There are some aspects of Islam that I find deeply moving; and over time, there may be certain traditions that will naturally integrate themselves into mainstream American life. But those things should not be force-fed to make all things equal.

I could mention that there are people who actively proselytize and target nonChristians so it can be hard to distinguish those who just say it and those who have an agenda.

I'm sorry, but in all my memory growing up around the states as a military brat, I have never felt targeted for proselytizing during Christmas. I have been invited to church at New Year's by a family I spent it with; but it was because I had no family where I was living at that year. They weren't trying to convert me. It was to share New Year's Eve amongst friends. And even someone did ask me to join a church, it's not like I was being raped or kicked in the testicles. You just say "no thanks". No big deal. I'm not offended. Not outraged. You just shrug your shoulders. It's not like someone was saying "I hate you."

But beyond that for me I can tell you that I have been irritated for years by people asking me to do something nice because of the season.

The season shouldn't have anything to do with being nicer. You should always help people regardless of time of year.


Well of course you should be nice all year round! That's not the point. You might as well say, "Why celebrate birthdays? You should be celebrating your birth and be thankful for being alive all year round!" Why celebrate anniversaries or anything for that matter? Why have any symbolic meanings and rituals of anything? Why have Memorial Day? Shouldn't we be mourning and be thankful to those who have given their lives and served, 24 hours a day...always be foremost in our hearts and thoughts 365 days a year at all times?!

Look....no one is twisting your arm to celebrate Christmas if you don't want to. That's where the real freedom lies. You are free to participate or not. But if the whole city decorates itself with Halloween sights and sounds....or Christmas caroling and parades, or whatever.....why should you rain on that parade? Why should you silence or shut that down? Personally, I am not comorotable in big crowds. I have a natural fear of mob-mentality and people getting out of hand when around alchohol and such. But I just avoid those things. I dont' try and shut them down. If there were an establishment clause in the Constitution that could be up for interpretation as meaning "Separation of Fun and State".....I would not be a party pooper and sue the city and state over party decorations.

Anyway, thank you for the dialogue, being courteous, and letting me rant a bit. I hope I have not been too rude in my replies.

Jack's Shack said...

Hi Wordsmith,

Welcome back. Now on to my replies.One thing before I begin. I am not interested in eradicating Xmas. I am not asking that it not be mentioned or celebrated. I am not asking that people forget about it. What I am saying is that I think that there is a valid reason for the Sep of Church and state and that it should be followed where appropriate.

Not all things should be equal, in my opinion. I think our society has this obsession with trying to make all things equal. Basketball is a tall man's game. Should I complain because I am not on a level playing field? Bad analogy, I know. But I hope it makes some bit of sense in this context.

All people should have equal rights under the law. Sometimes that is lost by those who ask for law based upon majority rule. I do not believe that the majority always sits on the side of right and justice.

You know what? I actually agree with those who talk about "a living, breathing document". And since that's the case, if "Originalists" are wrong and those who interpret the Constitution's second Amendment as meaning "separation of Church and State" are right, I'm all for revising it to preserve what I feel is a positive for our country.
Fair enough.
Oh, good. Think of the movies I listed, and replace them with your own; then imagine a world where Star Wars or The Godfather might be diminished in societal importance because sci-fi and mobster culture was unfairly overshadowing other pop culture movies, and you'll see how I'm hurting here (^_~)

I hear what you are saying but I don't believe that this is the case now.

But it does. The legal arguments we've both heard ad nauseam, running circles till we're dizzy and blue in the face. I'm speaking from the heart, why I love the "small things" in life that adds beauty and color to our society. I absolutely love when houses adorn themselves in Christmas lights. The more the merrier, giving a neighborhood a sense of community when they all participate. Now, you may say that has nothing to do with religion, and we can have those things just the same. But to call it "holiday decorations" and not "Christmas decorations" does us all a disservice. It dishonors the religious, for without which there never would have been this magical season, the way we've known it; and all the commercial aspects are deeply intertwined with the religous. Why extract it? It'd be just as wrong if we were to extract the pagan elements that have been absorbed into the Christmas traditions. I don't mind Christmas evolving over time. But I am opposed to the purposeful, strategic elimination of religion from Christmas. Or rather, taking Christmas out of Christmas.

Again I don't believe that is what is happening here. It makes for a good tug on your heart to claim that people are trying to remove the Christ from Christmas but I don't see any real proof of that.

And I say there are millions who are not Christian who do celebrate Christmas and those who don't who don't care and never really gave it much thought until groups like the ACLU over the past few decades have made it into such a big issue.

And out of these people there are some who are thankful that there are people who saw this as a problem and others who didn't.

I have known Jewish families by the way who have Christmas trees and who gift-exchange in the spirit of Christmas. It is the road to tolerance when you are able to share in another man's cultural heritage without closing yourself off from it.


It is a sad day when Jewish families celebrate Xmas. We have our own holidays and can appreciate others without taking theirs and trying to make it our own. It is not a matter of tolerance to take on someone elses holiday without regard for its meaning or interest in celebrating it as such.
I'm sorry, but in all my memory growing up around the states as a military brat, I have never felt targeted for proselytizing during Christmas.

Are you saying that if you didn't experience this it is not happening.
Well of course you should be nice all year round! That's not the point. You might as well say, "Why celebrate birthdays? You should be celebrating your birth and be thankful for being alive all year round!" Why celebrate anniversaries or anything for that matter? Why have any symbolic meanings and rituals of anything? Why have Memorial Day? Shouldn't we be mourning and be thankful to those who have given their lives and served, 24 hours a day...always be foremost in our hearts and thoughts 365 days a year at all times?!

Yep, I am saying that you should try to be thankful year round and that it bothers me that some people have no thoughts about being kind to others until the holiday season.
Look....no one is twisting your arm to celebrate Christmas if you don't want to. That's where the real freedom lies. You are free to participate or not. But if the whole city decorates itself with Halloween sights and sounds....or Christmas caroling and parades, or whatever.....why should you rain on that parade? Why should you silence or shut that down?
It all comes back to setting and place. Certain things are off limits and should remain off limits for the good of everyone and others are always available and are not being attacked in any way.

The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

I am not interested in eradicating Xmas. I am not asking that it not be mentioned or celebrated. I am not asking that people forget about it. What I am saying is that I think that there is a valid reason for the Sep of Church and state and that it should be followed where appropriate.

What you are asking is that its place in our country be diminished; that it stands down from the position of significance to our country that it's held for 200+ years.

Just because federal buildings and our currency and our pledge etc, mention a Creator or a God, does not equate to its endorsement of a particular church. Again, it goes back to how you are interpreting the Establishment clause.


All people should have equal rights under the law. Sometimes that is lost by those who ask for law based upon majority rule. I do not believe that the majority always sits on the side of right and justice.


But all people do have equal rights under the law. People have a right to succeed or fail on their own merits in this country. They have equal opportunity. Now how it relates back to Christmas is this: English is our unspoken spoken language. Is it fair when the minority who'd rather speak their own language, "push" their language on this country? Demanding that their native languages be respected and observed with equal merit and consideration, alongside English? "Equality" sometimes is counterproductive to common sense. It's like political correctness which can be a good thing, except when taken to the extremes that we've taken it to.


Again I don't believe that is what is happening here. It makes for a good tug on your heart to claim that people are trying to remove the Christ from Christmas but I don't see any real proof of that.


People on the Left of the issue have ridiculed this book, but you only need to look through this and similar instances that are pointed out in so many reports on how Christmas is being removed from Christmas. And you can also read "The ACLU vs. America" to see how the ACLU's very founder mentions about standing up for those ideologically at odds with them, on occasion, for the sake of appearances; of basically pretending to be "fair and balanced". But they are absolutely agenda driven and are religious intolerant. To not acknowledge that is to be in denial, in my opinion. It not only has manifested itself in their actions of winning through the threat of lawsuits, but also in their writings.



And out of these people there are some who are thankful that there are people who saw this as a problem and others who didn't.


Yeah, and I'm one of the people who say, "you don't speak for me".


It is a sad day when Jewish families celebrate Xmas. We have our own holidays and can appreciate others without taking theirs and trying to make it our own. It is not a matter of tolerance to take on someone elses holiday without regard for its meaning or interest in celebrating it as such.


I respectfully disagree with that position, but respect your outlook. I just see it differently, and I'm sure those Jewish families do as well. It's not about denying their own religion, or diminishing their own faith by embracing the celebratory aspects of another. Nor is it belittling Christianity. And what makes you assume that those Jews who are able to partake of certain Christmas traditions do not regard "its meaning or interest" with all seriousness? When we put such barriers between our faiths, how do we bridge our differences? We should all be allies in our search for peaceful co-existence and understanding. Devalueing the role Christmas has played historically in our nation does not help promote this.




Are you saying that if you didn't experience this it is not happening.


No...I'm countering your equal assertion that because you experienced it, that this is what's happening.




Yep, I am saying that you should try to be thankful year round and that it bothers me that some people have no thoughts about being kind to others until the holiday season.


I really think you're taking this to an extreme. No one denies that you should be nice all the time. How absurd is that, to think otherwise?

There are many things we should always do every day at all moments: take each gulp of air as if it were our last, say "I love You" and not let a day go by that we don't let someone know how much she means, give a 100% effort and live everything to our fullest potential, yadda, yadda, yadda.....

But really, you are talking about something that is unrealistic. What I mean is, let's use the Special Forces color code as an analogy. Everyone should be in a ready state of alertness: condition yellow. Condition white would be where you're completely oblivious and anyone could just come up to you and conk you on the head. Condition orange is a state where you are battle ready, because you know for certain you are about to enter the fray. Condition red is when you are in the thick of the fight. What you are basically saying implying is that we should always be in a state of condition red. To relate back to it, condition red in your case is being in a state of constant mindfulness of appreciation, deep love, etc. It cannot be maintained. You will wear out.

When you turn on the news each day....you are pretty much desensitized to all the killings and tragedies going in the world, to a degree. You are emotionally distanced. It doesn't mean you don't feel empathy for another's suffering. But imagine allowing yourself to feel "condition red" empathy for each tragedy news item of the day. Imagine feeling each death, each rape, each loss as if it were your brother or mother or daughter. Not just imagine it, but really feel it! You would have a break down.

Now, if more people felt that way, there might be less misery and killing. But that's a liberal-kind of John Lennon song belief that doesn't hold anchor in the real world.



It all comes back to setting and place. Certain things are off limits and should remain off limits for the good of everyone and others are always available and are not being attacked in any way.


When you are removing what has already been, I say that is attacking. In some instances, that's a good thing (ending slavery). But in this instance, I say we are extracting a good part of what helped make this country what it is today. Stifling religious expression in the public square is just as much cultural impoverishment if we lived under a Constitution where, let's pretend, no cultural expression could be allowed to show its face anywhere for fear of someone being offended by the sight of it. Not in schools, not on government buildings which, in such a society, cannot be architecturally influenced by cultural designs, not in office buildings. The only place fit for it, is behind closed doors. I thought our Founding Fathers escaped from such persecution?

Religious expression should be allowed to flourish; not be stifled.

Jack's Shack said...

What you are asking is that its place in our country be diminished; that it stands down from the position of significance to our country that it's held for 200+ years.
You know some slaveholders made similar comments. Tradition does not mean that something is moral or ethical.
Just because federal buildings and our currency and our pledge etc, mention a Creator or a God, does not equate to its endorsement of a particular church. Again, it goes back to how you are interpreting the Establishment clause.
You know I didn't mention the pledge or currency. Are you aware that the pledge initially did not contain the words "Under G-d."

But all people do have equal rights under the law. People have a right to succeed or fail on their own merits in this country. They have equal opportunity. Now how it relates back to Christmas is this: English is our unspoken spoken language. Is it fair when the minority who'd rather speak their own language, "push" their language on this country? Demanding that their native languages be respected and observed with equal merit and consideration, alongside English? "Equality" sometimes is counterproductive to common sense. It's like political correctness which can be a good thing, except when taken to the extremes that we've taken it to.
You hit a couple of points that are worth mentioning. It is easy to say that all people are equal but the reality is that there are people who receive different treatment and that is not necessarily, fair, right, just or moral. Part of this is about trying to see that there is a balance.

I think that it is important to encourage people to learn how to speak English but I wouldn't argue that all of our documentation should be solely in English. People come to America and are in different places with their level of understanding and ability in English. They shouldn't be penalized for that.
People on the Left of the issue have ridiculed this book, but you only need to look through this and similar instances that are pointed out in so many reports on how Christmas is being removed from Christmas.
They do so because it is ridiculous and patently false. I blogged about it here. That story also lists examples of the ACLU supporting religious freedom for all people, Xtians included.
I respectfully disagree with that position, but respect your outlook. I just see it differently, and I'm sure those Jewish families do as well. It's not about denying their own religion, or diminishing their own faith by embracing the celebratory aspects of another. Nor is it belittling Christianity. And what makes you assume that those Jews who are able to partake of certain Christmas traditions do not regard "its meaning or interest" with all seriousness? When we put such barriers between our faiths, how do we bridge our differences? We should all be allies in our search for peaceful co-existence and understanding. Devalueing the role Christmas has played historically in our nation does not help promote this.

Sorry, you wandering into deeper water here. There are certain core beliefs of Christianity that are untenable with Judaism, such as celebrating the birth of jesus. It is not something that people with a Jewish identity do easily. Perhaps in an interfaith household, but the reality is that there is no such thing as a Chanukah bush. I can call myself a dog but it doesn't mean that I am one.

As for devaluing the role Xmas has played assumes that it has been a vital part of all of our lives and I am here to remind you that for millions of people it is a meaningless day. It is forced vacation that doesn't offer anything to me.

I have not said that people shouldn't celebrate it, just asked for the courtesy that they seem to try and claim for themselves.

What is so hard about wishing someone a happy holiday or a festive Festivus.
No...I'm countering your equal assertion that because you experienced it, that this is what's happening.

See, you are not targeted in the same way so you really do not understand how prevalent this is.
I really think you're taking this to an extreme. No one denies that you should be nice all the time. How absurd is that, to think otherwise?

Not really. It is not extreme or unusual to ask that people try to be good and charitable year round.
When you are removing what has already been, I say that is attacking. In some instances, that's a good thing (ending slavery). But in this instance, I say we are extracting a good part of what helped make this country what it is today.
You seem to misunderstand the disenfranchisement and lack of inclusion that used to exist.

My parents and grandparents are old enough to remember quotas on how many Jews were accepted to certain schools, country clubs we were not allowed to join and houses that we couldn't buy.
Sadly there are numerous other groups that can list similar claims. I am not asking for homogeneity, just an understanding that it is really simplistic to claim that the past was better just based upon it being the past. Sentimentality clouds some people's vision.
Stifling religious _expression in the public square is just as much cultural impoverishment if we lived under a Constitution where, let's pretend, no cultural _expression could be allowed to show its face anywhere for fear of someone being offended by the sight of it.
Religion and cultural expressions are two different things.
The only place fit for it, is behind closed doors. I thought our Founding Fathers escaped from such persecution?
No, this is not what was said or suggested. The issue was places that receive funding through our tax dollars and for that matter the Founding Fathers made a point of ensuring that there was a separation of church and state because they understood the problems that can be caused.

Try being the only Jew in a place where the Christians read about how you supposedly killed G-d and then see how you are treated. Some people will not act any differently and others will.

It is not inclusive behavior. It is often exclusive and intolerant and that can go for any religion which is why they should be kept separate.

The WordSmith from Nantucket said...


You know some slaveholders made similar comments. Tradition does not mean that something is moral or ethical.


I've already covered this. Look back. I made a statement regarding slavery and also being stuck on tradition. Progress only makes sense when it is progress in the right direction.


You know I didn't mention the pledge or currency.


No but I bring it up, because they are related the way the war in Iraq is related to the GWOT.

Are you aware that the pledge initially did not contain the words "Under G-d."

Very much so. Michael Newdow has made it such an issue that it's another topic I've had to do some research on.


You hit a couple of points that are worth mentioning. It is easy to say that all people are equal but the reality is that there are people who receive different treatment and that is not necessarily, fair, right, just or moral. Part of this is about trying to see that there is a balance.


Yes, it's nice to try and create an equal playing field. But inequality is a natural state of life. It is an impossibility (nor, I think a desireability) to make ALL things equal. Someone who is Caucasian is going to naturally have differential treatment when he and I are auditioning for an acting role to play George Washington...and I happen to be Asian.

In boxing, we create weight divisions to try and equalize the playing field. But if it were possible to make every single aspect of it fair and equal, it would come down to a boxer boxing his twin and that all their lives, they've had the same exact experiences so that neither have an advantage or disadvantage; that every single meal is the same exact balance so that neither will have a nutritional advantage over the other...and on and on. It'd come down to a flip of the coin, really, to determine the winner. That's the extremes of seeking equality.

I think that it is important to encourage people to learn how to speak English but I wouldn't argue that all of our documentation should be solely in English. People come to America and are in different places with their level of understanding and ability in English. They shouldn't be penalized for that.

Of course not. It is a matter of practicality and of being a good host to accomodate guest and others. To make things run more smoothly. But you can definitely go overboard on this; and institutionalizing such things as bilingualism in education makes things worse. Bilingualism has been a disaster in education. It's hurt the hispanic population; not helped them.


That story also lists examples of the ACLU supporting religious freedom for all people, Xtians included.


I suggest you pick up the book the ACLU vs. America. They are absolutely militant in their secular atheism. To say that the ACLU supports religious freedom for all people is what's patently ridiculous and false.


Sorry, you wandering into deeper water here. There are certain core beliefs of Christianity that are untenable with Judaism, such as celebrating the birth of jesus. It is not something that people with a Jewish identity do easily. Perhaps in an interfaith household, but the reality is that there is no such thing as a Chanukah bush. I can call myself a dog but it doesn't mean that I am one.


It's not about compromising your "core" beliefs!!! For goodness sake! It's simply a matter of respect and appreciation for another's faith and beliefs. It's the bridge toward tolerance and understanding. It doesn't mean you have to go to a Christian church and read from their bible anymore than they should be studying the Torah (and there should be no harm in doing either, as well).

As for devaluing the role Xmas has played assumes that it has been a vital part of all of our lives and I am here to remind you that for millions of people it is a meaningless day. It is forced vacation that doesn't offer anything to me.

Then don't participate! Personally, I hate it when I can't go to certain places on any holidays, because things are closed down. I was hungry for a certain restaurant Thanksgiving weekend, only to find that they had taken the entire weekend off. Who am I to begrudge them that? Sometimes in life we are greatly inconvenienced. In the case of Christmas, I am opposed to anyone changing it, because they feel personally put out and inconvenienced and left out and "aren't having their feelings taken into consideration". If you feel like it's "forced vacation" so what? Do something productive and make the most of it! Some things in life should be beyond your ability to control and you have to learn to get over it, and deal with it. That's life.


What is so hard about wishing someone a happy holiday or a festive Festivus.


Nothing at all! When it's not coerced! I've grown up for years dong that, out of the politeness that you are talking about. But when people begin demanding that courtesy, like it's their God-given right not to be offended by anything or feel excluded, that grates on me.

I say Happy Hannukah to people, without a second thought that it is a tradition that I did not grow up around, and am excluded from it. I don't celebrate a lot of cultural holidays, but it makes me happy to see others enjoying their celebrations, out in the open and not behind closed doors, because some overly sensitive type has lodged a complaint about it.

See, you are not targeted in the same way so you really do not understand how prevalent this is.

I might not have experienced anti-Semitism, but I'm no stranger to exclusion and being made to feel an outsider and "the other". I think I did mention somewhere that I am not only non-religious, but also an ethnic minority. I'm left out of a lot of things, but it only affects you if you make it into an issue. There is no issue. It's not living in denial of a wrong or injustice, but just putting into perspective what's truly important and worth fighting over and what's not.



Not really. It is not extreme or unusual to ask that people try to be good and charitable year round.


Sigh....you miss my point. Of course you should live your life to be the best human being possible 100% of the time. To always strive to be your best.

But I find your position to be rather ridiculous and not grounded in reality. No offense intended. So, with the position you are taking, you don't see any specialness in anything? No act is extraordinary, or stands out from any other act? Birthdays are meaningless? Gifts are stupid, because we should always be giving people gifts every day to make them feel special year round? Anniversaries are nil; Valentines Day is stupid, because every day is Valentine's Day for you and your wife.


I am not asking for homogeneity, just an understanding that it is really simplistic to claim that the past was better just based upon it being the past. Sentimentality clouds some people's vision.

Go back to my quote on slavery, which I threw in to cover my argument. You dispense with the bad, but preserve the good. And I argue that Christmas....as is....is a good thing. A positive.



Try being the only Jew in a place where the Christians read about how you supposedly killed G-d and then see how you are treated. Some people will not act any differently and others will.


I don't know where you live, but most of the Christians and Jews I've interacted with are fine with one another. I think you and I have had different personal experiences. I don't deny yours, as it's stuff I know exists. But I hope you don't deny mine; nor that it "prejudices you" from seeing that not all Christians will treat you like that.


Try being the only Jew in a place where the Christians read about how you supposedly killed G-d and then see how you are treated. Some people will not act any differently and others will.

It is not inclusive behavior. It is often exclusive and intolerant and that can go for any religion which is why they should be kept separate.


It seems to me, it is your attitude toward religion that is "not inclusive". That creates this barrier. It might be why some Christians might be offended by you (regarding your opinion on such things as Christmas). Perhaps you've created a wall yourself, from being unjustly treated by certain Christians.

Jack's Shack said...

I've already covered this. Look back. I made a statement regarding slavery and also being stuck on tradition. Progress only makes sense when it is progress in the right direction.

Ok then you understand that arguing that things shouldn't change because they are based on tradition is not an argument that has all that much utility.

No but I bring it up, because they are related the way the war in Iraq is related to the GWOT
I am not familiar with the acronym.
Very much so. Michael Newdow has made it such an issue that it's another topic I've had to do some research on.
Ok so then you realize that many of the people arguing about the grand traditions of the country are arguing about things that are not based upon tradition.

Yes, it's nice to try and create an equal playing field. But inequality is a natural state of life. It is an impossibility (nor, I think a desireability) to make ALL things equal. Someone who is Caucasian is going to naturally have differential treatment when he and I are auditioning for an acting role to play George Washington...and I happen to be Asian.

In boxing, we create weight divisions to try and equalize the playing field. But if it were possible to make every single aspect of it fair and equal, it would come down to a boxer boxing his twin and that all their lives, they've had the same exact experiences so that neither have an advantage or disadvantage; that every single meal is the same exact balance so that neither will have a nutritional advantage over the other...and on and on. It'd come down to a flip of the coin, really, to determine the winner. That's the extremes of seeking equality.

Granted that it is impossible make everything equal, but that is a blanket statement. There are areas that we can make equal and one of them is ensuring that everyone is granted equality under the law.
Of course not. It is a matter of practicality and of being a good host to accomodate guest and others. To make things run more smoothly. But you can definitely go overboard on this; and institutionalizing such things as bilingualism in education makes things worse. Bilingualism has been a disaster in education. It's hurt the hispanic population; not helped them.
Fine, so we are in agreement here.
I suggest you pick up the book the ACLU vs. America. They are absolutely militant in their secular atheism. To say that the ACLU supports religious freedom for all people is what's patently ridiculous and false.

Sorry dude, that is not something that is fact, just your opinion.
It's not about compromising your "core" beliefs!!! For goodness sake! It's simply a matter of respect and appreciation for another's faith and beliefs. It's the bridge toward tolerance and understanding. It doesn't mean you have to go to a Christian church and read from their bible anymore than they should be studying the Torah (and there should be no harm in doing either, as well).

This is where you are absolutely incorrect. There are things that you do not do. And as a Jew you do not get a Xmas tree, you do not celebrate the birth of Jesus.

Now there is no reason why you couldn't go to a Christian's home and celebrate with them. There is no reason why you cannot appreciate their holiday, but it is theirs and not ours.

I wouldn't demean it or devalue by celebrating it when I am not sure if Jesus lived and certainly positive that if he did he was just a man.
Then don't participate!
I don't and I don't have any trouble finding things to do. But you have to understand how years of listening to people tell me how sorry they are that I am not part of their group gets old.

I didn't say that they couldn't celebrate. Didn't say that they shouldn't enjoy it, but I am not going to be placed in a position where they can shake their finger at me for asking that the law be observed.
I might not have experienced anti-Semitism, but I'm no stranger to exclusion and being made to feel an outsider and "the other". I think I did mention somewhere that I am not only non-religious, but also an ethnic minority. I'm left out of a lot of things, but it only affects you if you make it into an issue. There is no issue.
It is always easy to look at someone else and minimize things that bother them. I can just as easily say that there is no issue with not being inundated with cries of Merry Xmas or signs.

The carrying on by some people makes it sound like they are in danger of forgetting, as if one day people will wake up and have forgotten the holiday all because the salesperson whose name they don't know said Happy holidays to them.
But I find your position to be rather ridiculous and not grounded in reality. No offense intended.

It is clear to me that you are unable or unwilling to see where I am coming from. We keep repeating the same things. You think that it is a sign of tolerance for everyone to observe the same holiday.

I think that it is fine to celebrate but ask that you don't ramrod it down my throat and that you don't complain about being asked to follow the law.
And I argue that Christmas....as is....is a good thing. A positive.
You are entitled to your opinion. I never said that it could or shouldn't be celebrated. I said that I have a problem with proselytization and with the attempt to circumvent the sep. of church and state with cries of persecution. It simply isn't true.
I don't know where you live, but most of the Christians and Jews I've interacted with are fine with one another. I think you and I have had different personal experiences. I don't deny yours, as it's stuff I know exists. But I hope you don't deny mine; nor that it "prejudices you" from seeing that not all Christians will treat you like that.

The overwhelming majority of Christians I interact with Friends, family, colleagues etc are great people. No argument about that.

But there have been many occasions in which I have listened to a variation of the blood libel or someone has said that they forgive me for killing Jesus.

I don't need forgiveness and I don't want it. That treatment makes me wonder about what they really think and believe me when I say that there are many others who feel the same way.

Not to mention the many Christians I know who have confirmed that there is some latent hostility in some of these people.

The Jews in Germany all thought that they were just normal citizens and look what happened there. Vigilance comes from experience.

Humans are capable of great cruelty. Look at what the Turks did to the Armenians, the situation in Rwanda and Kosovo. Shit happens and sometimes you need to err on the side of caution. 2000 years of persecution doesn't just disappear overnight. I don't expect it but I don't ignore the things that can lead to it.

It seems to me, it is your attitude toward religion that is "not inclusive".

Damn right. Some things about religion are not going to be inclusive and by nature are exclusive.

I don't go out of my way to offend but I don't go slinking around begging for permission to enjoy the same rights and privileges as others.

Read some of the comments in this post like this one and you'll see what I mean:

Don`t bite the hand that feeds you." Jay Stang

And there were many more like this. It is not right and I won't accept it.

The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Ok then you understand that arguing that things shouldn't change because they are based on tradition is not an argument that has all that much utility.

But you don't seem to understand that my point is that abandoning traditions that are worthwhile to keep isn't progress in the right direction.

I am not familiar with the acronym.

Sorry, I hear it quite often: Greater War on Terrorism.

There are areas that we can make equal and one of them is ensuring that everyone is granted equality under the law.

Everyone is treated equally. You are free to express your religious celebrations, as are others free to express theirs. Recently the ACLU threatened a lawsuit over a Nativity scene, only to abandon it when they found out that in the same library, there was a Menorrah and some sort of Kwanzaa decoration.



Sorry dude, that is not something that is fact, just your opinion.

Statistically, I beg to differ.


This is where you are absolutely incorrect. There are things that you do not do. And as a Jew you do not get a Xmas tree, you do not celebrate the birth of Jesus.

You don't speak for all Jews, my friend. Personally, the Christmas Tree, with its pagan roots and all, doesn't have to be strictly about "baby Jesus". I see it as, and this will offend Christians, representative of something bigger than Christmas. It is a part of the American tradition that I grew up with. It is symbolic of some of the commercialism of Christmas, with the gift-buying and gift-exchanging. My mom's Buddhist and had no problems with Christmas celebrating. My Dad's atheist. He had no problems, because he gets the beauty and joys of celebrating the inherent good in the holiday.


I wouldn't demean it or devalue by celebrating it when I am not sure if Jesus lived and certainly positive that if he did he was just a man.

It is not demeaning it. Does Jesus want worshippers? Or would it matter to Him more if people celebrated his "birthday" by being "in the Christmas Spirit"? In expressing it with gift-giving? Peace and good-will toward all mankind? How is that "demeaning" to Jesus? Or devalueing His "Word", by living it?



But you have to understand how years of listening to people tell me how sorry they are that I am not part of their group gets old.

Don't listen to the religiously close-minded and narrow-visioned. Religion, for them, is a barrier.

It is always easy to look at someone else and minimize things that bother them. I can just as easily say that there is no issue with not being inundated with cries of Merry Xmas or signs.

True. It's how I feel in part about the removal of a tiny cross on the LA County Seal. If it hadn't been there to begin with, I certainly wouldn't raise a stink about the absence of a cross representing the history of the Missionaries. But what I oppose to the removal, is the motives behind it; and practicality-wise, the $800,000 of wasteful spending to update the County Seal.

The carrying on by some people makes it sound like they are in danger of forgetting, as if one day people will wake up and have forgotten the holiday all because the salesperson whose name they don't know said Happy holidays to them.

It is a slow, subtle eradication from our culture, of what has been a joyful tradition. I don't mind "Happy Holidays", except in where I see it as a deliberate, systematic minimalizing of Christmas; rather than a phrase that tries to be more welcoming of others to celebrate not "Winter Holiday" but "Christmas".



It is clear to me that you are unable or unwilling to see where I am coming from.

I could say the same for you.

We keep repeating the same things. You think that it is a sign of tolerance for everyone to observe the same holiday.

No...not observe it. You are free to observe or not to observe.

The overwhelming majority of Christians I interact with Friends, family, colleagues etc are great people. No argument about that.

But there have been many occasions in which I have listened to a variation of the blood libel or someone has said that they forgive me for killing Jesus.

I don't need forgiveness and I don't want it. That treatment makes me wonder about what they really think and believe me when I say that there are many others who feel the same way.

Not to mention the many Christians I know who have confirmed that there is some latent hostility in some of these people.


And as you expressed in your personal interactions, "The overwhelming majority" are great people. I absolutely agree with you about the Christian radicals who think I need saving, or that their religion is somehow superior and that only Jesus will lead us to salvation. That's a big turn-off for me as well. When I come across that, it pushes me away. Religion can bring out the best and magnify the worst in people.


Well, as you implied earlier, we are just circling the wagon and are both pretty much set in our beliefs. Just so you know, I did listen to what you had to say, and did not just come here to argue to be difficult. I have a greater appreciation and understanding of where you, as an individual, are coming from and I hope that leads me to greater sensitivity of your feelings and the feelings of others who share in them. Thank you for the civility in allowing me to comment on your blog, even though we have differing perspectives on things.

The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Oh...and:

Don't forget: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe opens: December 9th!!! (^_^)


Happy Holidays, Jack! (^_~)

Jack's Shack said...

Hi Wordsmith,

But you don't seem to understand that my point is that abandoning traditions that are worthwhile to keep isn't progress in the right direction.


This is a subjective question in which we differ regarding what traditions are worthwhile.


Sorry, I hear it quite often: Greater War on Terrorism.


Ok, I am familiar with it as WOT. Thanks.

Everyone is treated equally. You are free to express your religious celebrations, as are others free to express theirs. Recently the ACLU threatened a lawsuit over a Nativity scene, only to abandon it when they found out that in the same library, there was a Menorrah and some sort of Kwanzaa decoration.

I would pull all of them from the library. Chanukah is not equivalent importance to Xmas, but the real thing to me is the sep. of church and state.
You don't speak for all Jews, my friend. Personally, the Christmas Tree, with its pagan roots and all, doesn't have to be strictly about "baby Jesus". I see it as, and this will offend Christians, representative of something bigger than Christmas. It is a part of the American tradition that I grew up with. It is symbolic of some of the commercialism of Christmas, with the gift-buying and gift-exchanging. My mom's Buddhist and had no problems with Christmas celebrating. My Dad's atheist. He had no problems, because he gets the beauty and joys of celebrating the inherent good in the holiday.
I speak for millions of Jews on this topic. It is a common theme for discussion during this time of year. I wouldn't expect you to be familiar with it because these are typically internal discussions. You can find it online in various places. It is usually labelled as The December Dilemma and the tree is just one part of it.
It is not demeaning it. Does Jesus want worshippers? Or would it matter to Him more if people celebrated his "birthday" by being "in the Christmas Spirit"? In expressing it with gift-giving? Peace and good-will toward all mankind? How is that "demeaning" to Jesus? Or devalueing His "Word", by living it?


I'll let my friend Q answer this. He wrote a whole post on it.

here
It is a slow, subtle eradication from our culture, of what has been a joyful tradition. I don't mind "Happy Holidays", except in where I see it as a deliberate, systematic minimalizing of Christmas; rather than a phrase that tries to be more welcoming of others to celebrate not "Winter Holiday" but "Christmas".

Sorry, I think that this is a ridiculous suggestion. Several hundred million people are not going to forget what is happening. It implies that they have little real faith and regard fof their beliefs and I don't think that this is the case.
Well, as you implied earlier, we are just circling the wagon and are both pretty much set in our beliefs. Just so you know, I did listen to what you had to say, and did not just come here to argue to be difficult. I have a greater appreciation and understanding of where you, as an individual, are coming from and I hope that leads me to greater sensitivity of your feelings and the feelings of others who share in them. Thank you for the civility in allowing me to comment on your blog, even though we have differing perspectives on things.

No problem. You are welcome to come by any time. Happy Holidays. ;)

The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

I would pull all of them from the library. Chanukah is not equivalent importance to Xmas, but the real thing to me is the sep. of church and state.

What is so fearful about religious expression in the public square? Who cares? Since when have we "gone into the closet" over our religious identity and the expression of it?

There is no such thing as "separation of church and state"! What the First Amendment means is that the federal government is prohibited from establishing a national church. It is not a call to censor public religious expression, deny religious organizations equal access to public facilities, and does not say that churches and government cannot work together. The "wall of separation" that Jefferson referred to was about limiting the federal government's interference with religious expression.

I speak for millions of Jews on this topic. It is a common theme for discussion during this time of year. I wouldn't expect you to be familiar with it because these are typically internal discussions.

I may not be Jewish; but surely you are well aware that there are a vast number of Jews who don't share your viewpoint? Los Angeles is filled with Jewish people; and of all the ones I've talked to, I have not found one who is offended like you are over Christmas. Some are not as serious about their religion; others are very devout Jews. You can't possibly speak for them.

Sorry, I think that this is a ridiculous suggestion. Several hundred million people are not going to forget what is happening. It implies that they have little real faith and regard fof their beliefs and I don't think that this is the case.

And that argument belongs in the crapper. I could just as well turn it around and question how insecure you must be in your own faith, that you cannot tolerate how so many of your fellow citizens love to celebrate Christmas and don't want it changed, just so your feelings aren't hurt. I don't demand that your menorrah be called a "holiday candelabras" because it doesn't welcome me but excludes; so why should a Christmas tree be called a "holiday tree"? It's absolutely absurd not to call it for what it is.

You are welcome to come by any time. Happy Holidays. ;)

*sigh*...well, I thought I was done here, but thought I'd come take another look, and saw you had addressed some of my last points. And the big kicker is that I wished you "happy holidays" to take your feelings into account; if you had taken my feelings into account, you would have wished me a "Merry Christmas". Oh, well. I'll accept your well-wishes.

And since you gave me some reading material, here's one for you.

Jack's Shack said...

What is so fearful about religious _expression in the public square? Who cares? Since when have we "gone into the closet" over our religious identity and the _expression of it?

It is called separation of church and state. No one is saying that people cannot wear crosses or anything that identifies their religion. No one is saying that they cannot put up nativity scenes in their homes, on their roofs or frontyards.

There is no discrimination, just adherence to the law.

There is no such thing as "separation of church and state"! What the First Amendment means is that the federal government is prohibited from establishing a national church. It is not a call to censor public religious _expression, deny religious organizations equal access to public facilities, and does not say that churches and government cannot work together. The "wall of separation" that Jefferson referred to was about limiting the federal government's interference with religious _expression.

Actually you are twisting what Jefferson said, but let us take a look at things and understand that there most definitely is a separation of church and state, something that the Supreme Court has upheld many times such as forcing the removal of the 10 commandments from the courthouse.

There is no federal obstruction going on, there is nothing preventing people from observing their holidays. All this is rhetoric.

I may not be Jewish; So surely you are aware that I have a different understanding of the situation than you do, a deeper and fuller understanding. That is not a denigration of you as a person, just the reality that I bring to the table as a Jew who has been involved in Jewish life/groups in Los Angeles for more than 30 years.

but surely you are well aware that there are a vast number of Jews who don't share your viewpoint?
Vast is a descriptive word, but it is not specific. It really is a general term designed to generate an emotional response that is not based upon reality, fact or logic. But I'll grant there are Jews who disagree with me.

Los Angeles is filled with Jewish people; About 600,000 out of millions, an inordinately large percentage of the population that is not seen in the majority of the country.

and of all the ones I've talked to, I have not found one who is offended like you are over Christmas. I am not offended by Xmas. I am offended by specious arguments that claim that there is a a war on Xmas. I have 2000 years of persecution by the church that I can look at. What should I make of that, other than to say that the US has done an admirable job of promoting tolerance and diversity and that is something that I am trying to help promote.

I don't mind Xmas, I have made it clear that my issue is with the separation of church and state and the terror tactics/subterfuge undertaken by missionaries who target Jews.
Some are not as serious about their religion; others are very devout Jews. You can't possibly speak for them.
Why not. How do you know. How many Jews do you know.How many years have you spent as a Jewish educator.

This is not a pissing contest, but frankly you are in over your head. Trying to tell me about Jewish thought is not going to get you anywhere. Certainly there is no one unified body that represents all Jews, but since you are not Jewish and I am an active participant in multiple Jewish organizations I'll go out on a limb and say that between the two of us I am the expert on Jewish thought/life/experience.
I could just as well turn it around and question how insecure you must be in your own faith, that you cannot tolerate how so many of your fellow citizens love to celebrate Christmas and don't want it changed, just so your feelings aren't hurt.

This isn't about feelings. It is about following the law. You want to change it, you want to ignore the real details because the message is unwelcome to you. I am not insecure about my beliefs. At least once a month I am confronted by missionaries who try to proselytize to me and I am not living in the thick of it as so many others I know.

I am concerned because sometimes people are afraid to take the harder path and so they give in and start adopting the habits of those around them. And when you take Jews who have a weaker Jewish ed/identity it is easier to try and convince them to take on another faith. There is a target on our backs. I am not afraid, but well aware of history past and present.

I don't demand that your menorrah be called a "holiday candelabras" because it doesn't welcome me but excludes; so why should a Christmas tree be called a "holiday tree"? It's absolutely absurd not to call it for what it is.
We're in agreement, it should be called an Xmas tree. Next point.
*sigh*...well, I thought I was done here, but thought I'd come take another look, and saw you had addressed some of my last points. And the big kicker is that I wished you "happy holidays" to take your feelings into account; if you had taken my feelings into account, you would have wished me a "Merry Christmas". Oh, well. I'll accept your well-wishes.

Let me quote something you said earlier to me.

I'm neither Christian nor Jew
Since you are not a christian there is no reason for me to wish you a Merry Xmas. That has nothing to do with feelings or courtesy, it is just not your holiday.

Hmm........

The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

It is called separation of church and state. No one is saying that people cannot wear crosses or anything that identifies their religion. No one is saying that they cannot put up nativity scenes in their homes, on their roofs or frontyards.

Oh no? Religious bigotry, anyone?

There is no discrimination, just adherence to the law.

No...the laws are being twisted and interpreted in such a way as to ignore what has been established for our 200 year plus history; namely strong ties to Christianity in our culture. We live in a PC era where no one wants to offend minorities over anything. We are hypersensitive.



Actually you are twisting what Jefferson said,

Am I? Or could it be the atheistic agenda of groups like the ACLU who have done so? Since our founding, there has been a co-habitation of religious expression in government; what is not tolerated is the endorsement of a national church.

Daniel Dresibach will probably disagree with you on Jefferson.

but let us take a look at things and understand that there most definitely is a separation of church and state,

this phrase might have been penned in a letter by Jefferson, but it doesn't appear in the Constitution. And Hugo Black, an anti-Catholic former KKK member, had slipped the term "Wall of Separation" back in the 40's and liberals have been using it ever since.


something that the Supreme Court has upheld many times such as forcing the removal of the 10 commandments from the courthouse.


Yes, by leftist judges...and it has been challenged many times. As Mark Levin puts it: "the poor states have to go into court and say, well, it's not really religious, it's secular too. And in fact they're right. Not a single one of the 10 commandments hasn't been codified somehow. And we have to ask our liberal friends, what is it about Thou Shalt Not Kill, Thou Shalt not Steal? What is it about those phrases that are so terrible that they can't be in an actual courthouse? But the fact of the matter is, for the vast majority of our history, this was not a problem. What's happened is it's been twisted and turned by liberal lawyers, as well as liberal judges. There's nothing in the Constitution that prohibits the display of the 10 Commandments."

Do you think the Supreme Court in every generation would be consistent in making decisions whether to remove those commandments or not?

There is no federal obstruction going on, there is nothing preventing people from observing their holidays. All this is rhetoric.

That's not my argument, really. It is the notion that government must be divorced and devoid of religious expression. All it says in the Constitution is that there shall be no LAW by CONGRESS that establishes a national church. The First Amendment doesn't censor public religious expression or say that government and religion cannot work together.

Joseph Story was a key framer of the First Amendment and spent 34 years as a Supreme Court justice. His views are vastly different from the ACLU's in what the Founding Fathers intended. Among other things that he wrote: "Probably at the time of the adoption of the constitution, and of the amendment to it....sentiment in America was that Christianity ought to receive encouragement from the state, so far as it is not imcompatible with the private rights of conscience, and the freedom of religious worship.....Every American colony, from its foundation down ot the revolution....did openly, by the whole course of its laws and institutions, support and sustain, in some form, the Christian religion, and almost invariably gave a peculiar sanction to some of its fundamental doctrines...Indeed, in a republic, there would seem to be a peculiar propriety in viewing the Christian religion, as the great basis on which it must rest for its support and permanence, if it be, what it has ever been deemed by its truest friends to be, the religion of liberty.....The duty of supporting religion, and especially the Christian religion, is very different from the right to force the consciences of other men, or to punish them for worshipping God in the matter, which, they believe, their accountability to Him requires....The rights of conscience are, indeed, beyond the just reach of human power."

So surely you are aware that I have a different understanding of the situation than you do, a deeper and fuller understanding. That is not a denigration of you as a person, just the reality that I bring to the table as a Jew who has been involved in Jewish life/groups in Los Angeles for more than 30 years.

I can't remember the context of what you quoted me on (and, yes, I'm too lazy to go back and reread), but your sentence in itself, ignores the fact that I too, have a "unique" perspective; and I don't think mine is any less "deep and full". I don't know what it's like to be a Jew anymore than I know what it's like to be black; anymore than you know what it is like to be a heathen like me, and Asian to boot. But as one military blogger said to those who tell "pro-war" proponents, "Then why don't you join?"...that's a statement that's designed to shut down debate. Does that mean combat soldiers have more say than logistical support soldiers? Or that you can't criticize politicians, because you aren't one?


Vast is a descriptive word, but it is not specific. It really is a general term designed to generate an emotional response that is not based upon reality, fact or logic. But I'll grant there are Jews who disagree with me.


I used it because you used an equally deceptive word in saying millions support your view.

I am not offended by Xmas. I am offended by specious arguments that claim that there is a a war on Xmas.

If you can't see it, then there's not much I can say to convince you otherwise. It is so palpable. Think about what was acceptable 50 years ago in the public square; and what is acceptable and deemed offensive today.

I have 2000 years of persecution by the church that I can look at. What should I make of that, other than to say that the US has done an admirable job of promoting tolerance and diversity and that is something that I am trying to help promote.

Tolerance and diversity includes the role Christian tradition and heritage has played in building this nation. Not marginalizing its significance to our history.

I don't mind Xmas, I have made it clear that my issue is with the separation of church and state and the terror tactics/subterfuge undertaken by missionaries who target Jews.

Then keep your beef with them and not make the entire nation suffer a stifling of religious expression and what has been an American tradition.



Why not. How do you know. How many Jews do you know.How many years have you spent as a Jewish educator.


Because it is plain arrogance to claim you speak for everyone. Again, this goes back to what I said about the military blogger. Yes, there is something to be said about firsthand experience and walking in someone's shoes; but it doesn't mean the person is automatically right in their views.

This is not a pissing contest, but frankly you are in over your head. Trying to tell me about Jewish thought is not going to get you anywhere. Certainly there is no one unified body that represents all Jews, but since you are not Jewish and I am an active participant in multiple Jewish organizations I'll go out on a limb and say that between the two of us I am the expert on Jewish thought/life/experience.

Well, of course you are! I don't care if you are Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, atheist, or what! We only have been framing the argument around your Jewish background, because that's been your reference point.


This isn't about feelings. It is about following the law. You want to change it, you want to ignore the real details because the message is unwelcome to you.


Actually, It's the other way around. You cannot deny that it's only in recent years that political correctness has run amuck and has twisted the way we interpret the Constitution.

I am not insecure about my beliefs.

Sorry...that was out of line on my part to suggest. I absolutely believe you on that.

At least once a month I am confronted by missionaries who try to proselytize to me and I am not living in the thick of it as so many others I know.

I just tell them I'm the devil.

I am concerned because sometimes people are afraid to take the harder path and so they give in and start adopting the habits of those around them. And when you take Jews who have a weaker Jewish ed/identity it is easier to try and convince them to take on another faith. There is a target on our backs. I am not afraid, but well aware of history past and present.

I don't think Jews who aren't as orthodox or who are no longer as religious and devout as someone like you, is flawed; but of course...this gets into a bigger area that's difficult to discuss and my typing fingers have had it! What you bring up is the problem that everyone with any set of beliefs, including the missionaries you spoke of, will come up against: and that is a matter of faith...and whether you're right or not; and practicing the right religious faith or not; and praciticing in the manner in which God intends or not. There appear to be so many new churches that keep splintering off from previous branches, with each generation.

Let me quote something you said earlier to me.

I'm neither Christian nor Jew
Since you are not a christian there is no reason for me to wish you a Merry Xmas. That has nothing to do with feelings or courtesy, it is just not your holiday.

Hmm........


What it your quote-picking ignores is what I thought I've also stated here, which is that I celebrate Christmas. And it is not your place to judge how I celebrate it, anymore than you can criticize whether a fundamentalist Christian celebrates it correctly, an evangelical; whether a Mormon has it right; or whether a Buddhist in Japan is celebrating it correctly. My real argument is that Christmas has developed into an American traditional holiday. A nationally recongnized holiday. And most Christians are fine with it, so you shouldn't judge, since by your arguments, you aren't a Christian and don't speak for them. The only types who may be offended are the close-minded religious types who are the same ones who think of C.S. Lewis' Narnia as the devil's work because it involves a witch and pagan fantasy creatures.

Jack's Shack said...

Wordsmith,

You are playing silly games here. The first article you quoted said this:

The letter stated that the Samona family is violating subdivision rules by putting up lawn ornaments or statues without getting prior approval.

When you live in a community such as the one they chose to live in you agree to live by standards such as getting preapproval on what you can put in front of your home as well as what colors you can paint or how you can remodel. This is not discrimination. They chose to live there.

The other link is meaningless as it covers every possible case of religious vandalism.


No...the laws are being twisted and interpreted in such a way as to ignore what has been established for our 200 year plus history; namely strong ties to Christianity in our culture. We live in a PC era where no one wants to offend minorities over anything. We are hypersensitive


Life changes and if you cannot deal with that is not my problem. The Civil Rights movement took on laws and traditions that had been practiced for years because they were unfair and unjust.

Am I? Or could it be the atheistic agenda of groups like the ACLU who have done so? Since our founding, there has been a co-habitation of religious _expression in government; what is not tolerated is the endorsement of a national church.

There are nuances in life and law and sometimes no one bothers to question something that is truly wrong so nothing changes. Tradition doesn't mean moral or correct.

this phrase might have been penned in a letter by Jefferson, but it doesn't appear in the Constitution. And Hugo Black, an anti-Catholic former KKK member, had slipped the term "Wall of Separation" back in the 40's and liberals have been using it ever since.

I already explained why relying on the Constitution is weak example. Meaning that your claim that something is invalid because it is not in the Constitution is flawed. The Constitution is amended and was designed to be amended by the framers. They couldn't foresee everything so they made it possible to adapt and adopt.

Leftist Judges, I don't think so. Try reviewing the Warren court decisions. Beyond that leftist and liberal are terms that people have tried to make pejorative. The reality is that being a liberal/leftist should hold no bearing just as conservative/right wing should not either. Deal with fact and not rhetoric

There's nothing in the Constitution that prohibits the display of the 10 Commandments." The high court says that you are wrong. Law states that you are wrong.
The First Amendment doesn't censor public religious _expression or say that government and religion cannot work together.

It censors the involvement of Gov't and religion and since the Supreme Court repeatedly has ruled that way I am on the side of the law.

I can't remember the context of what you quoted me on (and, yes, I'm too lazy to go back and reread),

So you don't know the context of why I replied the way I did meaning that your response may not be relevant.

but your sentence in itself, ignores the fact that I too, have a "unique" perspective; and I don't think mine is any less "deep and full". I don't know what it's like to be a Jew anymore than I know what it's like to be black; anymore than you know what it is like to be a heathen like me, and Asian to boot. But as one military blogger said to those who tell "pro-war" proponents, "Then why don't you join?"...that's a statement that's designed to shut down debate. Does that mean combat soldiers have more say than logistical support soldiers? Or that you can't criticize politicians, because you aren't one?

It is designed to shut down uneducated debate because you don't know what you are talking about in regards to being Jewish and the things that we deal with this. It is foolishness to debate these things when you cannot identify. That is not a knock against you as a person, just the reality of this situation.
I used it because you used an equally deceptive word in saying millions support your view.

I said that millions support me because millions do. Some things are self-evident to Jews such as that we do not view Jesus being divine, the messiah or anyone of any importance to us. I could quote chapter and verse from the Reform, Conservative and Orthodox movements but I am not interested in doing so because you'll respond by saying that you know couple of Jews who feel differently and claim significance from that.

If you can't see it, then there's not much I can say to convince you otherwise. It is so palpable. Think about what was acceptable 50 years ago in the public square; and what is acceptable and deemed offensive today.

Fifty years ago Blacks couldn't eat at the same counter as whites, they couldn't use the same bathroom etc. That is not an argument that flies.

There is no war, just adherence to the law.

Tolerance and diversity includes the role Christian tradition and heritage has played in building this nation. Not marginalizing its significance to our history.

Fluff and smokescreens do not hide the reality of the situation. There is no war on Xmas, just a pathetic attempt by some to gain political capital.

Then keep your beef with them and not make the entire nation suffer a stifling of religious _expression and what has been an American tradition.

You exaggerate this and make it sound like there is terrible suffering because we ask that people follow the law. I understand that some people don't like that. I understand that some people think that they should be allowed to drink and drive but there are reasons we look out for everyone and do not operate soley based upon the majority.
Because it is plain arrogance to claim you speak for everyone.

Again, I am sure that it is frustrating to try and fight from a position of ignorance but when you try to speak about Jewish issues that is where you are coming from.

But part of what frustrates me is when I read your comments and see that you said
I can't remember the context of what you quoted me on (and, yes, I'm too lazy to go back and reread),

Why engage in dialogue if you are not going to read. I don't know if you are disagreeing with me because you truly disagree or if you misunderstood something that was written because you didn't take time to read it all. It is silly to debate a topic in which one party doesn't participate.

What it your quote-picking ignores is what I thought I've also stated here, which is that I celebrate Christmas. And it is not your place to judge how I celebrate it

You said that you are not Xtian but that you celebrate Xmas. I think that this is the example of how the holiday has been devalued and debased. I am not going to wish you a merry Xmas because the holiday is not significant to you. If that makes me a bad person, oh well.

I don't tell my boss that I am taking time off for holidays that are not mine just because I want to share in the celebration.

It is really too bad that you do not understand why what you are doing is wrong and how it could be upsetting to others.

Religious holidays should not be devalued by others who think that it is cool to be a part of that group unless truly believe in the principles of that religion.

Anonymous said...

This is Jay Stang. How did I find this? was bored, so I googled myself. Doesn't everyone?

Wow, I didn't know I ignited such a firestorm. When I posted that on the Ha'aretz forum, my intent was this: Foxman is fighting the wrong enemy. He has nothing to fear from the evangelicals in America. Why doesn't he go after the people that are killing Jews every day? That seems to me to be a more pressing threat.

I love Israel. My dad's side of the family, which is Jewish, sent me and my brother to the Alexander Muss High School in Israel. Two months of awesomeness. I tried to join the IDF before I went back to America. No louck there, so I joined the Marines. But I digress. I don't love Israel because I think that something is going to happen there in some crazy end time theory. I love that country because it is a beacon of civilization in a part of the world which can be dsecribed charitable as "medieval". There is so much history there it boggles the brain. Also, because the Israeli people have acomplished so much against overhwelming odds. It would be a shame to see all of that go to waste and see another genocide perpetrated by the Muslims and their sex-death-murder cult.