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Author Topic: "No Other Gods Before Me"  (Read 855 times)

Darkhawk

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Re: "No Other Gods Before Me"
« Reply #30 on: August 23, 2019, 11:30:08 am »
I cannot speak for modern Christianity's perspective, and I do not know what exactly "Judeo-Christianity" actually is.

Fictional!  (Or, in actual origin, "We mean Christianity but it's suddenly politically incorrect to sound like Nazis.")

A recent thread on the topic begins here:
as the water grinds the stone
we rise and fall
as our ashes turn to dust
we shine like stars    - Covenant, "Bullet"

Donal2018

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Re: "No Other Gods Before Me"
« Reply #31 on: August 23, 2019, 01:08:04 pm »
Modern Judaism's perspective has to do a great deal more with the Talmud and many generations of scholarship than it does with the words of the Bible itself. It's also hugely varied--different Jewish scholars will have different perspectives on God and plurality.

I cannot speak for modern Christianity's perspective, and I do not know what exactly "Judeo-Christianity" actually is.

I used the term "Judeo" because I thought that "Christianity" alone kind of disregards the Old Testament. If some find it offensive, I apologize. I do find the Jewish perspective interesting from what I know of it, which honestly is not too much. I am trying to be open to various perspectives. 

Donal2018

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Re: "No Other Gods Before Me"
« Reply #32 on: August 23, 2019, 01:12:05 pm »
By and large Hinduism is universalist, i.e. all paths ultimately lead to one goal, call it God, the mountaintop, or whatever. Some paths are longer, some are shorter, but eventually they all get you there. Hinduism is also very accepting and acknowledging of other deities and the validity of those religions. I.e. Buddhism is right for a Buddhist, Christianity for a Christian, Islam for a Muslim, etc. There are Hindus who keep Jesus and/or Mary in their shrines. I myself have small separate shrines for Buddhist and Taoist deities, and for Thor.

Gandhi made a comment along these lines... "After long study and experience, I have come to the conclusion that [1] all religions are true; [2] all religions have some error in them; [3] all religions are almost as dear to me as my own Hinduism, in as much as all human beings should be as dear to one as one's own close relatives. My own veneration for other faiths is the same as that for my own faith; therefore no thought of conversion is possible." All Men Are Brothers: Life and Thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi as told in his own words, Paris, UNESCO 1958, p 60.

Yes, thanks for this. I am a Universalist and Christian Pagan, but this is the crux of my interest in Hinduism- One Source, Many Gods. I will be trying to read more about Hinduism and its cosmology to help me better understand my own views, which are a bit more Western.

Donal2018

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Re: "No Other Gods Before Me"
« Reply #33 on: August 23, 2019, 01:20:31 pm »
Emanationist theologies; deistic clockmaker gods with minions; polymorphous theophanies of prime principles; polytheistic gods as equivalents of angelic beings; there are many options.

But there's also the question of why monotheism is a necessary thing for you to also drag along.  Plenty of syncretic and adaptive practices discard things that one of the source religion considers of core, fundamental importance, because it's not actually important to their practice. If it doesn't work for you, why take that part?  If it does work for you, what's the problem you're having?

(One can't say that it's about respecting the purity of a tradition or whatever when doing combinatorics in the first place.)

Yes, I agree with all this in a rational sense, but I would point out that I was raised Catholic and steeped in Christian ideas such as Monotheism and the Trinity. I can't just choose what I believe without dealing with this on a deeper psychological level. It is not completely rational. This stuff was deeply socialized in me at a young age. I need to process it.

So, I can't just simply ignore this and choose another path. I actually HAVE chosen another path, but because these views are so deep in my psyche, I am finding that I need to talk and write about them for my own sake. It seems to be part of a process of turning down the psychic volume down on my Catholicism and turning the volume up on my newer religious views.

Donal2018

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Re: "No Other Gods Before Me"
« Reply #34 on: August 23, 2019, 01:26:06 pm »
Fictional!  (Or, in actual origin, "We mean Christianity but it's suddenly politically incorrect to sound like Nazis.")

A recent thread on the topic begins here:

Yes, that might be true for some. I was just adding the term "judeo" because I felt it showed respect for the fact that Christians are basically using Jewish people's  Book as their own Old Testament. I was not aware that it might be offensive or inappropriate to use that term.. A total absence of malice. I will drop the term "judeo" in the future.

Darkhawk

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Re: "No Other Gods Before Me"
« Reply #35 on: August 23, 2019, 02:42:58 pm »
So, I can't just simply ignore this and choose another path. I actually HAVE chosen another path, but because these views are so deep in my psyche, I am finding that I need to talk and write about them for my own sake. It seems to be part of a process of turning down the psychic volume down on my Catholicism and turning the volume up on my newer religious views.

That makes a lot of sense.

So a question for you: do you suppose it would be healthier/more productive to try to do this process of reconciliation and continue to carry that monotheistic assumption-set, or to work on changing that deep programming?  Both of these are legitimate ways of approaching the issue of legacy thought, but it's worth consciously thinking about which work is necessary and which work is productive.
as the water grinds the stone
we rise and fall
as our ashes turn to dust
we shine like stars    - Covenant, "Bullet"

Darkhawk

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Re: "No Other Gods Before Me"
« Reply #36 on: August 23, 2019, 02:47:37 pm »
Yes, that might be true for some. I was just adding the term "judeo" because I felt it showed respect for the fact that Christians are basically using Jewish people's  Book as their own Old Testament. I was not aware that it might be offensive or inappropriate to use that term.. A total absence of malice. I will drop the term "judeo" in the future.

There are indeed some Jewish folks who don't mind it (Jews are even less likely to agree on things than pagans, heh), but I'm familiar with quite a number who chafe at the language because it carries with it the assumption that their traditions are more linked to Christian traditions than is actually the case, and basically a certain amount of "Of course you agree on this point!" assumption that is not appropriate.

Heavy focus on scripture and not scriptural analysis and commentary is particularly a Christian thing.  St. Jerome is probably still rotating in his grave over that one.
as the water grinds the stone
we rise and fall
as our ashes turn to dust
we shine like stars    - Covenant, "Bullet"

Donal2018

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Re: "No Other Gods Before Me"
« Reply #37 on: August 23, 2019, 02:54:58 pm »
That makes a lot of sense.

So a question for you: do you suppose it would be healthier/more productive to try to do this process of reconciliation and continue to carry that monotheistic assumption-set, or to work on changing that deep programming?  Both of these are legitimate ways of approaching the issue of legacy thought, but it's worth consciously thinking about which work is necessary and which work is productive.

It is a legitimate question. I think that my answer is a bit of a cheat- I will try to do both. I don'think that I will ever fully escape my Catholicism. I will always at least be a former Catholic.

So since I can't fully escape the views socialized into as a child, I will try to reconcile those views with my current tendencies towards paganism and polytheism.

That said  I do sort of envy those who were raised without a strong religious social environment. I would rather be a Freethinker that comes to religion via reason versus being fed a lot of stuff growing up. It is hard to escape the legacy one is raised in.

Donal2018

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Re: "No Other Gods Before Me"
« Reply #38 on: August 23, 2019, 03:09:59 pm »
There are indeed some Jewish folks who don't mind it (Jews are even less likely to agree on things than pagans, heh), but I'm familiar with quite a number who chafe at the language because it carries with it the assumption that their traditions are more linked to Christian traditions than is actually the case, and basically a certain amount of "Of course you agree on this point!" assumption that is not appropriate.

Heavy focus on scripture and not scriptural analysis and commentary is particularly a Christian thing.  St. Jerome is probably still rotating in his grave over that one.

I have to say that I am a novice at best when it comes to other religious traditions outside my own, iincluding Judaism. I am trying to learn more and be as respectful as I can be, but sometimes I must admit ignorance. This ignorance has no malice in it.

I would say that one thing that I am learning here on the Cauldron is that I can really benefit in my own religious views by looking at other religions, doing comparative mythology and comparative religion.

Understanding something about Judaism or Hinduism might be an illuminsting comparison or contrast to my own belief. So, I am still a novice, but I am trying to learn more about my own views by respectfully considering other peoples religions and views.

So if my language is offensive to some, I do apologize, it comes out of ignorance and not malice. I am trying to correct myself and will continue to try and become better educated.

Donal2018

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Re: "No Other Gods Before Me"
« Reply #39 on: August 23, 2019, 06:40:35 pm »
Yes, that might be true for some. I was just adding the term "judeo" because I felt it showed respect for the fact that Christians are basically using Jewish people's  Book as their own Old Testament. I was not aware that it might be offensive or inappropriate to use that term.. A total absence of malice. I will drop the term "judeo" in the future.

I did not realize how loaded the term "Judeo-Christian" was when I used it. I must have picked up the term from when I grew up. I don't remember any specific teaching about it beyond a general sense of it. I thought it was a way of acknowledging the fact that the Hebrew Bible is a main source of Christianity/Catholicism as the Old Testament. In other words, I thought it was out of a respect for the Jewish origins of Catholic Bible. I understand now that this was a serious misunderstanding of the term on my part.

I now see that I did not look at it from the Jewish side of it and how it could be harmful towards people of that Faith. I will paraphrase a quote from the Wikipedia article on this: "...The belief of the Judeo-Christian tradition insidiously obscures the real and significant differences between Judaism and Christianity". So I used the term out of ignorance but without any malice. I apologize for this and will correct myself. I am sorry that I unwittingly used what is at best a controversial term, and at worst an offensive one.

Here is a link to the whole Wikipedia Article if anyone is interested in it- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judeo-Christian

Donal2018

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Re: "No Other Gods Before Me"
« Reply #40 on: August 23, 2019, 07:08:57 pm »
I did not realize how loaded the term "Judeo-Christian" was when I used it. I must have picked up the term from when I grew up. I don't remember any specific teaching about it beyond a general sense of it. I thought it was a way of acknowledging the fact that the Hebrew Bible is a main source of Christianity/Catholicism as the Old Testament. In other words, I thought it was out of a respect for the Jewish origins of Catholic Bible. I understand now that this was a serious misunderstanding of the term on my part.

I now see that I did not look at it from the Jewish side of it and how it could be harmful towards people of that Faith. I will paraphrase a quote from the Wikipedia article on this: "...The belief of the Judeo-Christian tradition insidiously obscures the real and significant differences between Judaism and Christianity". So I used the term out of ignorance but without any malice. I apologize for this and will correct myself. I am sorry that I unwittingly used what is at best a controversial term, and at worst an offensive one.

Here is a link to the whole Wikipedia Article if anyone is interested in it- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judeo-Christian

I would maybe write further to clarify- I am a political and social progressive. That said, I was raised in a religious environment that might have also incorporated into me a conservative streak. This despite the liberalism of the Vatican II nuns who were my main teachers. That conservative streak may be partly unconscious on my part. I think that I am becoming more aware of it as I progress and grow older.

I do not want to have those conservative values influencing me, unconsciously or otherwise, so I am working to try and identify these bad ideas and remove them from my psyche. So, I am a progressive trying to remove certain conservative ideas from my own mind that were incorporated into me during my upbringing. This is partly reflected in the tension I have between my Christian views and my evolving Pagan views, and so are relevant to my own subject here, I think. I appreciate being able to express this here, and maybe to have a chance to improve myself.

Failivrin

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Re: "No Other Gods Before Me"
« Reply #41 on: August 24, 2019, 12:29:34 am »
It seems to admit a polytheistic reality, but demands monotheistic worship.
First, in regard to the Judeo-Christian discussion, it is fair to say that the two schools have scriptures, traditions, and several key points of theology in common. The Abrahamic religions are, to my knowledge, the only religions which insist that because God created humans, humans are bound to obey his commandments. But there are dramatic differences in theological and mythological construction between the schools, and the history between them has been violent (The medieval persecutions of Jews by Christians comes to mind).

Christians tend to be confused about all this because 1) our history books tend to white-wash religious conflicts, 2) Christians do maintain the Jewish canon in their Bibles, unlike Muslims who acknowledge but do not propagate the Jewish scriptures, and 3) Jesus adamantly claimed to fulfill the Jewish scriptures. With regards to point 3, Jesus was eccentric to say the least. Most of Jesus's ethics come from Greek philosophy, e.g. Stoicism, while Christianity's theology derives heavily from Zoroastrianism.

I cover this stuff in my book, "Gods of the Flesh." It has been known to biblical critics and archaeologists for well more than a century but is consistently brushed under the rug by theologians and lay believers. For the more scholarly opinions, you can defer to Raphael Pattai, Ziony Zevitt, William Dever, or Francesca Stavrakapoulou--all of whom have very different religious views but agree that the Bible does not truly reflect Jewish history or religion.

It is especially important to understand who wrote the Bible and when. In a nutshell, the Hebrew kingdom was divided into Israel and Judah, with Jews being the people of Judah. The Bible itself shows evidence of rampant polytheism in both kingdoms from the days of Solomon to the destruction of Jerusalem. (And the signs are clear even before this. What exactly was Jacob doing carting around Laban's household idols?).

As both the texts and archaeological/historical studies make clear, the Jewish Bible was compiled--and large swaths of it redacted or rewritten--following the Babylonian Exile. That is to say, this Bible which claims to be a record of the history and philosophy of the Jewish people was actually written after the Jewish kingdom ceased to exist. Ezekiel is case in point: The prophet shows polytheism happening in the Jerusalem temple, watches the Jewish priesthood get totally annihilated, and then proposes himself as some kind of reformer who's going to tell the truth about Yahweh that people have been missing for centuries.

The actual truth is that the Jews became monotheists during the chaos and social dissolution following the Exile, when radical "reformers" like Ezekiel and Ezra stepped in to fill the gap after both the priesthood and monarchy had been destroyed (or while it was being destroyed, as in the days of Hezekiah).

The prophets often had selfish and misogynistic explanations for why Judah deserved to be destroyed. They consistently targeted women, and a Goddess most of all, whose name, Asherah, appears 40 times in the Jewish Bible, but is almost erased in some English translations. Jeremiah talks about Asherah at length, usually calling her a whore, along with the women who worship her. But her religion was well-established as Hebrew religion, not some cult that infiltrated from outside. Jeremiah 44, for example, shows a confrontation between the prophet and the women of Jerusalem who worshiped the Queen of Heaven and had been doing so for generations.

Jeremiah, Hosea, and Ezekiel targeted Asherah and Baal (possibly conceived as Asherah's son) as the sources of Yahweh's jealousy--but it was the prophets themselves who were jealous. Ezekiel spewed venom on the women of Israel for thinking foreigners were more attractive and virile than Jews, while Hezekiah's priests schemed to get rich by designating all public offerings to the priests of Jerusalem, rather than the other temples (Yes, there were other temples in Judah. Archaeologists have dug them up, at Arad, for example). Interestingly, a number of archaeological discoveries point to the position of Asherah as Yahweh's wife, including blessings inscribed from "Yahweh and his Asherah." It was a doomed marriage to say the least.

So in my (evidence-based but unpopular) opinion, the incongruities of the Hebrew-language Bible owe to the fact that it was written at a late date by Jewish zealots who actually hated Hebrew religion and did a botched job of redacting/revising the scriptures. As William Dever noted in "Did God Have a Wife?" the writers of the scripture could not prohibit the old Hebrew religion, with its gods, goddesses, offerings and mysterious sexual rites (?) without giving some explanation of what they were prohibiting. This ironically meant admitting to the existence of Jewish polytheism.

The writers of scripture tried desperately to insist (and managed to convince many people today) that polytheism was some kind of fringe movement or corruption of Jewish monotheism, but the reality is that Judaism was an entirely new religion with as little connection to the historic Hebrew religion as Christianity has to Judaism.

Do with that what you will.

[Adding white space between paragraphs - SP]
« Last Edit: August 24, 2019, 09:58:06 am by SunflowerP »

Eastling

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Re: "No Other Gods Before Me"
« Reply #42 on: August 24, 2019, 12:36:48 am »
So in my (evidence-based but unpopular) opinion, the incongruities of the Hebrew-language Bible owe to the fact that it was written at a late date by Jewish zealots who actually hated Hebrew religion and did a botched job of redacting/revising the scriptures.

This is actually common scholarship these days, largely due to the research and writings of Jewish academics--see Raphael Patai's The Hebrew Goddess. Academics these days have gone on to branch out into more minute discussions of where Yahweh originated and how much we actually know about Asherah.
"The peacock can show its whole tail at once, but I can only tell you a story."
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Re: "No Other Gods Before Me"
« Reply #43 on: August 24, 2019, 10:12:46 am »

A Reminder:
Hi, Failivrin,

We don't mind long posts here, but to avoid having a hard-to-read wall-o'-text, hitting "enter" twice every few lines adds some white space and makes it easier to follow - I've edited yours to add those breaks, but it's a really good habit to get into yourself.

They don't have to be the "proper" place for paragraph breaks (we're interested in readability more than technicalities), or a complete change of thought - some thoughts take a lot of lines and need to be broken up into sub-thoughts - as long as they're there.

This isn't a formal warning, just a reminder (though it's worth mentioning that this is the second time you've been reminded about this; if you continue to do it, especially on very long posts, you may be subject to formal warnings). No reply is necessary, but if you have questions or need clarification,  please feel free to contact a member of staff privately.

Thanks!
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