Saturday, May 10, 2008

Why reading a broad range of opinions is essential

I guess the thing that buggged me about Roderick Eugene King is that, at least in the video, he appeared to be someone who only wanted to listen to his own views, and not to opposing views. Despite what some have said, this is not just a tendency of the loony liberal left; the right wing wackos have also been known to stick their fingers in their ears on occasion. Take the Laura Mallory case, in which she unsuccessfully attempted to get Harry Potter out of the Gwinett County, Georgia schools.

I will be a substitute teacher for a Bible study at a Lutheran church tomorrow, and I figured that it might be a good idea to look at the original Jewish holiday that was being celebrated when the Holy Spirit came down to the believers in Acts 2. So, for the first time ever, I'm researching a Bible study using StumbleUpon. This means that if anyone in my class is reading my FriendFeed, they can study ahead, I guess. (Theoretically.)

Anyway, it goes without saying that I am teaching this study from the Christian perspective. However, some of my research materials are decidedly NOT in the Christian perspective. I just ran across this discussion of Shavu'ot at the Judaism 101 website, and its point of view is instructive:

The period from Passover to Shavu'ot is a time of great anticipation. We count each of the days from the second day of Passover to the day before Shavu'ot, 49 days or 7 full weeks, hence the name of the festival....The counting reminds us of the important connection between Passover and Shavu'ot: Passover freed us physically from bondage, but the giving of the Torah on Shavu'ot redeemed us spiritually from our bondage to idolatry and immorality. Shavu'ot is also known as Pentecost, because it falls on the 50th day; however, Shavu'ot has no particular similarity to the Christian holiday of Pentecost, which occurs 50 days after their Spring holiday.

Check the last part of the last sentence. Two important things struck me:

  • In Christian teaching, the events in Jerusalem that are described in Acts 2 are of supreme significance to the Church, and are seen as a fulfillment of things that were only partly realized in the Old Testament period. The Jews (or at least the non-Messianic ones), obviously, have a different perspective, and to them the events of Acts 2 have "no particular similarity" to the agricultural harvest or the giving of the Law.

  • The big one, however, is the reference to "their Spring holiday." Remember that to the (non-Messianic) Jew (as well as to the Muslim, incidentally), the idea that Jesus is actually God is the worst type of blasphemy. Therefore, it's understandable that a Jew would not refer to "the raising of Jesus," or even "the alleged raising of Jesus." It's better to put the whole unpleasant, "blasphemous" episode out of mind and just refer to a "Spring holiday."
Now there are some people who would state that a believing Christian should not even be reading Judaism 101, since it states things that are in opposition to the Word of God.

I consider such people as Communists.

Actually, kind of literally.

My views on information dissemination are somewhat borrowed from the teachings of that great Christian theologian Adam Smith. (Somewhat off-topic content here.) I believe in a free marketplace of ideas, in which Christian and "Christian" and Jewish and Muslim and Hindu ideas all mix around in this great world of ours, each of them having their say.

In the end, I know which idea will prevail.

Sphere: Related Content
blog comments powered by Disqus