Commenter Archive

Comments by George Jochnowitz
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On “Dialogue with John: Sacred Texts/Tests

Rex,

In John 1:29, we read, "Behold the lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world." This is echoed in the Agnus Dei, part of the Mass or Eucharist service of the Catholic, Anglican, Orthodox, and Lutheran Churches.

Believing in the Trinity includes the belief that Jesus is simultaneously human and divine:
http://www.carm.org/questions/about-god/gods-nature-changed-jesus-being-divine-and-human

The only datum about Jesus, other than what we know from the Gospels, tells us that he was crucified. We don't know what he said, one way or the other. If we feel that we KNOW Jesus was absolutely good, a doctrine that descends from dogma, and if we have decided that eternal damnation can't really be good, then we have to assume that he did not say the words attributed to him. But if we don't have the faintest idea what he said, since none of it is independently attested, why should we be interested in him at all?

On the other hand, we should be very interested indeed in the words that gave us a force as historically significant as Christianity.

As of this moment, there is no movement within Islam that denies that the words of Mohammed were said by him.

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Crucifixion was a Roman method of execution for at least four centuries. Every crucifixion was equally horrible.
Religions typically teach that although God created the world, He doesn't have the power simply to forgive sin. Punishment has to go somewhere. In Christianity, the punishment went to God Himself, since Jesus was both God and the Son of God. He also was totally human, so that He could die; and totally divine, so that He would be resurrected.
Had there not been a crucifixion, according to Christian doctrine, everyone would have had to go to hell. Salvation is possible only if you believe that Christ died for your sins. Christians should be grateful to Judas; had it not been for Judas, all Christians would be damned, just like everybody else.
http://www.jochnowitz.net/Essays/GospelOfJudas.html

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Rex,

If the real JC wanted nothing to do with power and ordainment, then he wanted to be a nobody.

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Rex,

If the real Jesus never said anything about hell, then he is a nobody. The religion that loves Jesu and worships him as both God and the Son of God has been an extraordinarily powerful force in world history. Despite its sects and variety, Christianity is consistent about damnation and about salvation through faith. That is its driving force.

Technology two millennia ago was less developed than it is today, and so we can't watch Jesus on Youtube. But we certainly do know what Christianity is and has been.

For most of the history of Christianity, Christians considered eternal damnation both just and merciful. What makes people wonder about who the real Jesus was and what he really said is their realization that there is something morally wrong with the idea of everlasting punishment.

Today, there are Christians and Marxists who are questioning their beliefs. But there aren't people who are willing to think bad thoughts about Jesus Marx and Karl Christ. Is there anyone (not counting me) who has attributed the actions of Pol Pot or of the Kim Dynasty to the words of Marx? No. Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot and the Kims were merely monsters. Their cruelty was not connected to any doctrine, says everybody--including anti-Marxists.

Perhaps the reason for the strength of Islam in an age of doubt is the fact that doctrine has never been successfully divorced from the words of Mohammed. Somebody needs to say that he was misquoted, or that the words he uttered during his epileptic fits were not evidence of anything he believed, but just the result of illness.

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@ Rex Caruthers:

The words attributed to Jesus in the Gospels came from somebody. Whether they were said by one person or many, they reflect a single tone and a single viewpoint. The person or persons who said these wrods has been loved as Jesus for two millennia. That has to be the meaning of the name "Jesus."

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@ CK MacLeod:

Yes, there are good Muslims today. There certainly were good Germans during World War II, and most of the people who died in the carpet bombings of Hamburg and Dresden were not monsters. Today, Germany is one of the two least anti-Israel countries in
Europe.
In the meantime, by their fruits ye shall know them.
According to Gordon Chang, North Korea is at it again. North Korea, like Iran, has faith.
http://www.forbes.com/2010/06/23/north-korea-asia-nuclear-opinions-columnists-gordon-g-chang.html?boxes=opinionschannellatest

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@ CK MacLeod:

We may not be in a good position to determine who is prevailing, but we can see who has prevailed. During the last half century, Christianity has significantly modified its opposition to Judaism. During the same period, Islam has done the opposite.

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@ Zoltan Newberry:

Nah. He's just trying to look henpecked so that people won't discover that he's a closeted homosexual.

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@ narciso:

Too bad. Mohammed's sword conquered a chunk of the world extending from Spain to Indonesia in order to save the people there from eternal damnation. The Qur'an is inconsistent on the question of Jews, who once lived as dhimmis with a reasonable degree of security, but nowadays only the supersessionist side prevails.

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Blind faith is inherently, necessarily wrong. To understand the world, politics, science, psychology, etc., we have to explore, question, and reconsider.
It seems to have been Jesus who introduced the idea that if we don't have faith we will go to hell: "He that believeth on him is not condemned; but he that believeth not is condemned already because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God" (John 3:18).
The idea of hell spread from Christianity to Islam and to an extent, to Judaism.
Marx also expected an era without disagreement, since in his vision of the final stage of communism, the state would wither away, because without class differences, there would be no conflict.
There is a single element in the faith of Nazism: cleansing the world of Jewish genes. Belief didn't matter to Hitler, since he killed atheists and Christians of Jewish descent. He didn't even care that atomic scientists were Jews (or in the case of Enrico Fermi, married to a Jew and therefore Jewish under the Nuremberg laws).
James Carroll, in his CONSTANTINE'S SWORD, offers a theory about why Christianity, Islam and Marxism are anti-Semitic: all three doctrines are partly descended from Judaism, and so they have to show Judaism is wrong in order to justify their breaking away.
It is curious that even today, believing Jews and Christians don't seem to have noticed that there is no hint anywhere in the Bible that the earth might be round.

On “The other obvious

@ Rex Caruthers:

I'm not ready for a post at the moment. I think Rabbi Watzal is making a mistake about Israel's fears. Israel is not frightened because the Holocaust happened; it is afraid of a new Holocaust. The fear is based on Iran's policies and statements by its leaders, and by the Hamas and Hezbollah Charters, which exclude the possibility of negotiation or peace--at least in principle.

What Zionism means today is the idea that Israelis can continue to live where they now live, just as if they were in an ordinary shitty little country. Zionism is a yearning to be ordinary. Instead, Israel is the one country that is the focus of international hostility--not North Korea, not Sudan (I hear Sudan has started killing Darfurians again), not even America.

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@ Rex Caruthers:

Thanks for reminding us about how Eisenhower overthrew Mossadegh. Had there been no Shah, there would never have been a Khomeini.
http://www.jochnowitz.net/Essays/Eisenhower.html

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@ Lotus Feet:

Ribbit?

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The world is real. The Hamas Charter is real. When Shelby Steele wrote that Arafat rejected Barak's offer in 2000, he wrote about something that really happened. When Steele wrote about rockets lauched from Gaza, that too really happened. The fact that the rockets killed only a few people doesn't undo the reality that they were indeed launched in order to kill people.
Saying Steele put on his short skirt and waved his pom-poms does not reflect reality. It is a metaphorical way of saying that Steele argued in favor of the view that he supports. Should people not be permitted to do so?

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@ CK MacLeod:
Nationalism and universal human rights co-exist in the United States, Israel, and elsewhere. The Amish have spoken Pennsylvania Dutch (or Pennsylvania German, to be technical) for 300 years and have been good American citizens since independence. Arab citizens of Israel have always served in the Knesset and now in the Cabinet. Nor is it too late for violent ethno-nationalism, which recently exploded in Kyrgyzstan, and has been raging in Sudan, Kosovo, etc.

@ Rex Caruthers:
Israel did every country in the world--Iraq included--a favor when it destroyed the Osirak reactor. Iran would be pursuing nuclear weapons whether or not Israel had them. It is happening because the country's rulers have faith.

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@ Parson Logic T ReFog:

Yes.

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Raleb Majadele is a member of the Israeli cabinet. An Arab, he has refused to sing Hatikvah, Israel's national anthem.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raleb_Majadele
Perhaps there is another country in the world that would allow someone to serve as a member of the cabinet after making a statement about refusing to sing the national anthem. Somehow, I doubt it.
Israel, a country in mortal danger, has allowed more freedom to its citizens than any other country in such a situation.
When people start comparing Israel with other countries, they make equations: Israel's Flaw A = the Arabs' Flaw B. It's a natural thing to do. However, the equations don't balance. Yes, Israel has flaws. Does anybody argue that France shouldn't be allowed to exist because it has flaws?
Israel gave Gaza its independence five years ago. Had Gaza accepted the gift, the West Bank, except for parts of Jerusalem and its suburbs, would have been given independence as well. Settlers would have been removed kicking and screaming, as they were from Gaza.
Nobody knows. Nobody cares. Hate Israel. Hate! Hate! Hate!

On “Islamophobia = Islamism (Replies to John)

During the Middle Ages, Islamic astronomers made important discoveries.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_astronomy
In Europe, at that time, Copernicus was afraid to let his theory of a heliocentric solar systen be published. He feared he might be burned at the stake because his conclusions contradicted Genesis, Chapter 1.
Could one imagine science blooming in the world of Islam today? At this moment in history, as I often say, there are only two doctrines that people accept with blind faith: Marxism and Islam.

On “Cost of Islamophobia 3 – Islamism and Modernity

@ fertilizing treefrog:

I am grateful to you for your comment. I always enjoy the originality of your language and thoughts, but I have never been able to understand how such an innovative writer can support the most hackneyed, powerful political force on earth: anti-Zionism. Who are you to jump on the bandwagon?

Perhaps you feel you are not supporting anti-Zionism but merely being critical of Israel. Critical shmitical. There isn't a soul in the world who hasn't been critical of Israel. It's easy to be critical of the most hated country on earth. Frogs shouldn't jump on bandwagons.

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@ fertilizing frog:

I have never met a Jew who was not critical in some way of different aspects of Judaism or Jewish culture. Most Jews oppose the policies of the Ultra-Orthodox. Joining them would be boring. I, on the other hand, always say unexpected things.

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Good to hear the news, fertilizing treefrog. Thank you.
Here's a new story that echoes old stories. Two car bombs killed people in Baghdad.
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/21/world/middleeast/21iraq.html?hp

Is there a single soul in the world who benefits from these tragedies? I don't understand what good this could do to anyone's cause.
As is the case with the 7-year-old who was hanged, this is an opportunity for moderate Muslims to express their views.

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@ fertilizing treefrog:

Thank you. I didn't find the story in the NYTimes print edition, and I don't regularly read the Daily News.
And thank you for giving the story an extra bit of publicity.

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Here is an opportunity for moderate Muslims to make a point. Taliban has apparently hanged a 7-year-old boy for spying. Karzai has condemned it. The media have ignored it. They shouldn't. All Muslims should be given the chance to make their views known.

http://www.newser.com/story/92053/taliban-executes-7-year-old-spy.html

On “The cost of Islamophobia

@ narciso:

Mughniyeh was one person. He was an important and dangerous person. There were 85 deaths in the IMIA bombing, and many more injuries. None of the victims was considered dangerous.

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@ CK MacLeod,

Sully's #60 leads me to ask about your #52. I don't know what the provocation of your response to Christian Zionist was.

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