Online reading group and book discussion forum
  HOME ENTER FORUMS OUR BOOKS LINKS DONATE ADVERTISE CONTACT  
View unanswered posts | View active topics It is currently Tue Sep 29, 2020 6:36 pm





Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 34 posts ] • Topic evaluate: Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.  Go to page 1, 2, 3  Next
Ch. 8: The "New" Testament Exceeds the Evil of the 
Author Message
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

BookTalk.org Owner
Diamond Contributor 3

Joined: May 2002
Posts: 16302
Location: Florida
Thanks: 3572
Thanked: 1371 times in 1075 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post Ch. 8: The "New" Testament Exceeds the Evil of the
God is Not Great

Ch. 8: The "New" Testament Exceeds the Evil of the "Old" One



Mon Mar 02, 2009 6:06 pm
Profile Email WWW
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Gold Contributor
Book Discussion Leader

Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 5980
Location: Canberra
Thanks: 2405
Thanked: 2345 times in 1772 posts
Gender: Male
Country: Australia (au)

Post 
Quotes summarising this chapter

Quote:
rereading .. necessary ... sinister premonitions ... human sacrifice ... virgin shall conceive ... myths begin to converge. Mencken ... discordant documents ... tampered with. Australian fascist ... Mel Gibson ... anti-Semitic ... obvious bigotry ... patently fraudulent ... maimonides described the punishment of the detestable Nazarene heretic as one of the greatest achievements of the Jewish elders, insisted that the name of Jesus never be mentioned except when accompanied by a curse ... and announced that his punishment was to be boiled in exrement for eternity. ... Gospels ... a garbled and oral-based reconstruction ...Old Testament ... Christianity is ... vindication and completion of that evil story ... highly questionable existence of Jesus ... contradictions ... never explained ... feebleness ... Christians could simply burn or silence anyone who asked any inconvenient questions ... Virgin Birth ... manufacture of a legend ... riddled with dreams and with astrology ... star-predictions ...innocuous ... beatitudes ... wish thinking ... Jesus ... contempt for a Canaanite woman ... oblique reason for thinking that some such personality may at some time have lived. ... CS Lewis ... literal truth, or the whole thing is essentially a fraud ... not literal truth ...case for biblical consistency or authenticily or 'inspiration' has been in tatters.



Thu Apr 09, 2009 4:16 am
Profile Email WWW
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Platinum Contributor
Book Discussion Leader

Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 6713
Location: Luray, Virginia
Thanks: 2049
Thanked: 2294 times in 1730 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post 
An obvious question to ask concerning the chapter is whether Hitchens makes his case: Is the New Testament indeed more evil than the Old? Almost everyone seems to take the view that in the NT, God has become more like a loving father, and of course Jesus says many humane things (along with some not so humane). The resulting consensus would seem to be that while the NT, or at least the gospels, is still confused and unreliable, it is not violent and dominated by a wrathful God, and therefore would not be "as evil." (Hitchens does ignore the rest of the NT, but the gospels are of course the most important books.)

We should also consider in evaluating Hitchens' argument the point he saves for a later chapter: In the NT, we see Hell in full use as the place where sinners will be sent, for, among other things, not believing in the risen Christ (Mark 14:16).



Sat Apr 11, 2009 8:28 pm
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Brilliant

Bronze Contributor 2

Joined: Jul 2008
Posts: 674
Thanks: 17
Thanked: 20 times in 15 posts
Gender: Male
Country: Canada (ca)

Post 
While the book of Revelations, and multiple stoning punishments are chillingly hostile towards non-believers and helps to put the fear of God in believers. It is often not the focus of Christian moralizing. I think that the bible is essentially harmless and should be accepted at face value (as should all books) as a historical and cultural artifact and frame of reference for understanding classical events, it's the people who read it in certain ways that are cause for worry.

:book:



Sun Apr 12, 2009 7:26 pm
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Platinum Contributor
Book Discussion Leader

Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 6713
Location: Luray, Virginia
Thanks: 2049
Thanked: 2294 times in 1730 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post 
Grim wrote:
While the book of Revelations, and multiple stoning punishments are chillingly hostile towards non-believers and helps to put the fear of God in believers. It is often not the focus of Christian moralizing. I think that the bible is essentially harmless and should be accepted at face value (as should all books) as a historical and cultural artifact and frame of reference for understanding classical events, it's the people who read it in certain ways that are cause for worry.

Could the bible cause people to act badly or immorally towards others, other groups in particular? This does appear to be granting a great deal of power to a book, but on the other hand, if truly understood to be the word of God, who's to say it could not be just that powerful for misguided believers? I tend to think that, mostly, the bible was to used to justify what people wanted to do anyway. Slavery didn't exist because of the bible's tacit endorsement of it, but it sounded good to slaveowners to say that the God of teh bible approved of their owning people.



Tue Apr 14, 2009 6:31 pm
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Brilliant

Bronze Contributor 2

Joined: Jul 2008
Posts: 674
Thanks: 17
Thanked: 20 times in 15 posts
Gender: Male
Country: Canada (ca)

Post 
DWill wrote:
Could the bible cause people to act badly or immorally towards others, other groups in particular?


Hasn't it already? In general no one picks up the bible and is inspired down into immorality. They have to be told to be that way.

:book:



Tue Apr 14, 2009 8:11 pm
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
I dumpster dive for books!

Bronze Contributor

Joined: Aug 2003
Posts: 1790
Thanks: 2
Thanked: 18 times in 13 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post 
Christians have practiced a theology of displacement for millenia- one that required a revaluation of the role of Torah and the chosen-ness of the Jews...part of this has involved the innacurate notion that the wrathful Yahweh of Moses was replaced by the loving Abba of Jesus, and the stubborn people of Israel with the gracious church of Christ. This effort has been largely successful in much of Christendom and, some argue, a key component of the theological justification for Christian anti-Semitism, which reached its apex of depravity in the European holocaust. Many post-holocaust Christian theologians and biblical scholars have made important efforts to turn back the tide of this displacement theology...showing the dependency of the Gospels and letters of Paul and the majority of the New Testament writings on the Torah, Prophets and Writings of the Hebrew Bible...portraying Jesus and Paul as two Jewish men, struggling with the complexities of their worlds through Jewish lenses, utilizing Jewish scripture and tradition as the framework for their vision, mission and ethic in the world...as well as the earliest Church being composed of primarily Jewish members, seeing their purpose and destiny as a fulfillment of Jewish history and faith.

And, these efforts have been shared by many Jewish scholars and theologians as well: working to discover how Jesus and Paul serve as ancestors and elder brothers in a long and complex and conflicted Jewish geneology...finding common ground, shared values and mutual hopes in the prayers and psalms of Jesus and Paul...learning that these two ancient communities (prior to the Church becoming the official religion of the Roman Empire) actually travelled along very similar and shared paths, often side by side and together....both facing a dark and terrible history where Jerusalem and its Temple were destroyed by imperial brutality...the violent fanaticism of militant resistance...and the dreams of apocalyptic vengeance from heaven.....and both communities struggling to determine how God's ancient promise to Abraham was being fulfilled in their new post-Temple, diasporic existences.



Wed Apr 15, 2009 7:53 am
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Platinum Contributor
Book Discussion Leader

Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 6713
Location: Luray, Virginia
Thanks: 2049
Thanked: 2294 times in 1730 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post 
Dissident Heart wrote:
.....and both communities struggling to determine how God's ancient promise to Abraham was being fulfilled in their new post-Temple, diasporic existences.

What kind of foundation would you say that God's promise to Abraham is? Hitchens and many others of course have been revolted by this keystone episode in the OT. I am as well. No matter how Abraham's willingness to kill his son--and God's commanding him in the first place--is somehow recast to make it less like a brutal test of fealty, the story speaks for itself. Face value must count for something. Scholarly and imaginative theologians such as yourself can find other surfaces to explore beneath the primary one, but this becomes a specialty not very accessible or even appealing to the average person. There is a need, in one sense, to conform to the literal meaning of the bible or any text. We shouldn't dodge the primary import of the words.

Efforts to recast, harmonize, modernize, or humanize the bible and its theology are nothing objectionable, but for me they tend to support Hitchens' contention that faith has become optional and private. I don't know that I'd go so far as to include his third adjective, "irrelevant."



Wed Apr 15, 2009 8:41 am
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Brilliant

Bronze Contributor 2

Joined: Jul 2008
Posts: 674
Thanks: 17
Thanked: 20 times in 15 posts
Gender: Male
Country: Canada (ca)

Post 
While antisemitism may be viewed as excusable from the perspective of the NT in actuality the basic moral grounding of jesus is the suggestion of forgiveness for they where unaware, or powerless, in the face of their actions.

Religious antisemitism seems to be more of a perception than a reality. The holocaust was a political response to what was seen as the communist threat embodied in the economic jewery of Europe who were scapegoated for the misfortunes of Germany following WWI and responsible for the threats Germany was then seen to be facing from an empowered and international Bolshevism in Russian and political Socialism in post-WWI Germany. These negative views of the jew were given credibility in jewish texts such as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion more so than in a bible which was really better used in the Sunday schools for children than in the politics of the time. Nora Levin writes that "despite conclusive proof that the Protocols were a gross forgery, they had sensational popularity and large sales in the 1920s and 1930s. They were translated into every language of Europe and sold widely in Arab lands, the United States, and England. But it was in Germany after World War I that they had their greatest success. There they were used to explain all of the disasters that had befallen the country: the defeat in the war, the hunger, the destructive inflation." The political and social bodies of the time were stirred into a frenzy of political antisemitism not a religious one, after all jews at that time were common throughout much of Europe and would seem to have been tolerated up to that point from all perspectives.

Even when looking at historical events like the Crusades it becomes apparent that the religion mattered much less than the ethnic empowerment of one group over another. A holy war at any time was actually much less holy, the term merely a reflection of political influence, and more physical expressions of earthly distaste rather than moral interpretations directly from the bible. That Arabs were morally distasteful at the time says less about the bible and more about the type of qualitative statements being made by the men who allowed themselves to be said to follow it. The same thing is being done today, and yet the difference now is that you hear very little about a certain paperweight in relation to the conflict.

:book:



Wed Apr 15, 2009 9:22 am
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
I dumpster dive for books!

Bronze Contributor

Joined: Aug 2003
Posts: 1790
Thanks: 2
Thanked: 18 times in 13 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post 
DWill: What kind of foundation would you say that God's promise to Abraham is? Hitchens and many others of course have been revolted by this keystone episode in the OT. I am as well. No matter how Abraham's willingness to kill his son--and God's commanding him in the first place--is somehow recast to make it less like a brutal test of fealty, the story speaks for itself.

I don't think there is any way around the terrible abuse and trauma that permeates Abraham's attempted sacrifice/murder of Isaac. No matter how you tell the story: someone is preparing to sacrifice, and another is prepared to be sacrificed. It is a horrible and revolting story.

Like I have already stated in another thread, the Bible does not hide from the horrible and revolting: it exposes/confronts the worst elements of human and divine behavior...this story happens to contain both.

So what to do with this story? First, recognize that it does not hide the terrible deeds of its most important characters: God and Abraham are both shown in the worst of possible lights...to me this is a reminder that the greatest among us are capable of the terrible deeds. I think, over time, this kind of awareness serves to foster a strong skepticism and healthy anarchic awareness of power and its abuses...if Abraham, our greatest of heroes, is capable of such depravity, then be sure those we entrust with power today are just as capable too. Likewise, our most important ideas, the non-negotiable and inexchangable notions and most cherished beliefs (eg, God or gods) can be used to encourage great harm and destruction.

Second, the story is not unique in describing how fathers althruout history have sacrificed their sons for great ideals, religious fervor, personal delusion, or tribal wars and nationalist patriotism. Fathers all over the planet have demanded their sons go off to fight, kill and be killed for absurd, unjust and immoral ideals and objectives. Again, this story can be a reminder of the dangers of that kind of behavior: how easy it is to simply "follow orders" and submit to authority and be able to put self, family, and planet in harms way.

Third, the story confronts the reader with some questions: what or whom do you worship? What are you willing to do in order to appease your highest ideal, most important obligation, fundamental principle, ultimate value, or God...Christopher Hitchens is has been a strong supporter of the "War on Terror" and has been willing to send fortune and bodies into warfare: knowing full well that innocents will be destroyed and injured...knowing full well that it will involve the killing of women and children and whole families and god-knows-what-else kind of terror that comes from warfare. Mr. Hitchens has reasons for sending US soldiers to kill and be killed: he has values and ideals that he feels must be upheld, even if women, childen, elderly and invalids are slaughtered along the way...he sees them as unavoidable casualties and necessary sacrifices for the greater mission. Where Abraham was forced to hold the knife in one hand, and Isaac's throat with the other...to face the actual, visceral, bloody consequences of his behavior....Mr. Hitchens sends other people's children off to combat where they will inevitably kill innocent children. And, Mr. Hitchens is not alone...all of us, at least US citizens, ae doing this right now as I type.



Wed Apr 15, 2009 2:48 pm
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Platinum Contributor
Book Discussion Leader

Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 6713
Location: Luray, Virginia
Thanks: 2049
Thanked: 2294 times in 1730 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post 
Grim wrote:
These negative views of the jew were given credibility in jewish texts such as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion more so than in a bible which was really better used in the Sunday schools for children than in the politics of the time. Nora Levin writes that "despite conclusive proof that the Protocols were a gross forgery, they had sensational popularity and large sales in the 1920s and 1930s.

It makes sense to me to attribute antisemitism to Christian tradition broadly, rather than to rather slight mention in the Gospel of John. I don't think Hitchens makes a huge thing of this element in the NT. He even balances this with the JEWISH tradition of claiming credit for the execution of Jesus, which I was unaware of before.
Quote:
Even when looking at historical events like the Crusades it becomes apparent that the religion mattered much less than the ethnic empowerment of one group over another. A holy war at any time was actually much less holy, the term merely a reflection of political influence, and more physical expressions of earthly distaste rather than moral interpretations directly from the bible. That Arabs were morally distasteful at the time says less about the bible and more about the type of qualitative statements being made by the men who allowed themselves to be said to follow it.

I wouldn't be able to argue with this view. I frankly don't know how an assessment can be made, especially by a non-historian like me, of what images and urges impelled the Crusaders into their series of foreign wars. That their motivations were mixed, and not totally for either lucre or power or Christ, I think could be said with assurance, though.
Quote:
The same thing is being done today, and yet the difference now is that you hear very little about a certain paperweight in relation to the conflict.

Help me out with the paperweight?



Wed Apr 15, 2009 8:34 pm
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Brilliant

Bronze Contributor 2

Joined: Jul 2008
Posts: 674
Thanks: 17
Thanked: 20 times in 15 posts
Gender: Male
Country: Canada (ca)

Post 
According to Vittorio Messori: "In connection with the Crusades, it was anti-Catholic propaganda that invented the name ... It goes without saying that those who attacked Jerusalem 900 years ago would have been very surprised had they been told that they were engaged in what eventually would be known as the 'first Crusade.' For them it was an itinerary, a 'pilgrimage,' a route, a passage. Those same 'armed pilgrims' would have been even more surprised had they foreseen the accusations levelled against them of trying to convert the 'infidel,' of securing commercial routes to the West, of creating European 'colonies' in the Middle East ..."

"The Crusades," says Dr Franco Cardini, an expert in Medieval history, "were never 'religious wars,' their purpose was not to force conversions or suppress the infidel. The excesses and violence committed in the course of the expeditions (which did occur and must not be forgotten) must be evaluated in the painful but usual context of ... military events, keeping in mind that, undoubtedly, some theological reason always justified them.

"The Crusade was an armed pilgrimage that developed slowly over time, between the 11th and 13th centuries, which must be understood by being inserted in the context of the extended relations between Christianity and Islam, which have produced positive cultural and economic results ... If this was not the case, how could one explain the frequent friendships, including military alliances, between Christians and Moslems, in the history of the Crusades?"

"To describe the Crusade as a "Holy War" against the Moslems is misleading, says Cardini: "The real interest in these expeditions, in service of Christian brethren threatened by Moslems, was the restoration of peace in the East, and the early stirring of the idea of rescue for distant fellow-Christians. The Crusade posited reconciliation with the adversary before departure, renouncement of disputes and vengeance, acceptance of possible martyrdom ..."


All books can be classified according to their weight in paper also known as paperweight.

:book:



Wed Apr 15, 2009 9:10 pm
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Platinum Contributor
Book Discussion Leader

Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 6713
Location: Luray, Virginia
Thanks: 2049
Thanked: 2294 times in 1730 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post 
Dissident Heart wrote:
I don't think there is any way around the terrible abuse and trauma that permeates Abraham's attempted sacrifice/murder of Isaac. No matter how you tell the story: someone is preparing to sacrifice, and another is prepared to be sacrificed. It is a horrible and revolting story. ....Like I have already stated in another thread, the Bible does not hide from the horrible and revolting: it exposes/confronts the worst elements of human and divine behavior...this story happens to contain both.

I'll grant you that your approach is very different from that which is used in any but a few very liberal churches. I would even call it a non-devotional approach. Worshipers generally want to revere the bible itself, not to see it as some kind of ironic or subversive commentary. And I think that here their instincts are right: there is no other way to read the Abraham/Isaac story but as representing simply and straightforwardly the proper way of faith.
Quote:
if Abraham, our greatest of heroes, is capable of such depravity, then be sure those we entrust with power today are just as capable too.

But is there much basis for his heroism besides his performance in the fealty test, which you acknowledge to be depraved?
Quote:
Likewise, our most important ideas, the non-negotiable and inexchangable notions and most cherished beliefs (eg, God or gods) can be used to encourage great harm and destruction.

I simply think that Abraham/Isaac is the wrong story to illustrate this truth.
Quote:
Second, the story is not unique in describing how fathers althruout history have sacrificed their sons for great ideals, religious fervor, personal delusion, or tribal wars and nationalist patriotism. Fathers all over the planet have demanded their sons go off to fight, kill and be killed for absurd, unjust and immoral ideals and objectives. Again, this story can be a reminder of the dangers of that kind of behavior: how easy it is to simply "follow orders" and submit to authority and be able to put self, family, and planet in harms way.

For me the key words in the paragraph are "can be a reminder." We have to ignore the clear intent of the bible passage in order to summon up this reminder.
Quote:
Third, the story confronts the reader with some questions: what or whom do you worship? What are you willing to do in order to appease your highest ideal, most important obligation, fundamental principle, ultimate value, or God...Christopher Hitchens is has been a strong supporter of the "War on Terror" and has been willing to send fortune and bodies into warfare: knowing full well that innocents will be destroyed and injured...knowing full well that it will involve the killing of women and children and whole families and god-knows-what-else kind of terror that comes from warfare. Mr. Hitchens has reasons for sending US soldiers to kill and be killed: he has values and ideals that he feels must be upheld, even if women, childen, elderly and invalids are slaughtered along the way...he sees them as unavoidable casualties and necessary sacrifices for the greater mission. Where Abraham was forced to hold the knife in one hand, and Isaac's throat with the other...to face the actual, visceral, bloody consequences of his behavior....Mr. Hitchens sends other people's children off to combat where they will inevitably kill innocent children. And, Mr. Hitchens is not alone...all of us, at least US citizens, ae doing this right now as I type.

Mr. Hitchens has reasons. They might or might not be the right ones. That is our predicament in the world, not to be able to know whether all our actions will turn out to be right. Abraham had no reasons (he was not forced to hold the knife, either) for killing Isaac. What is objectionable is his total surrender to a very repellent command. Unquestioning loyalty has not been held as admirable for quite some time now. You don't disagree with this, presumably, but you say that our support for a war on terror is equivalent to giving up our minds. Whether we are right or wrong in this matter, I don't think we have parallel situations.



Wed Apr 15, 2009 9:25 pm
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Brilliant

Bronze Contributor 2

Joined: Jul 2008
Posts: 674
Thanks: 17
Thanked: 20 times in 15 posts
Gender: Male
Country: Canada (ca)

Post 
DWill wrote:
That is our predicament in the world, not to be able to know whether all our actions will turn out to be right. Abraham had no reasons (he was not forced to hold the knife, either) for killing Isaac. What is objectionable is his total surrender to a very repellent command. Unquestioning loyalty has not been held as admirable for quite some time now.


So in a sense I suppose that it is actually the skeptical interpretation which is most rational for this particular parable? If great moral lessons pertaining to life are to be learned from a perspective taking the bible as misguided then does the book not retain some merit? As an example of error.

:book:



Wed Apr 15, 2009 10:02 pm
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Gold Contributor
Book Discussion Leader

Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 5980
Location: Canberra
Thanks: 2405
Thanked: 2345 times in 1772 posts
Gender: Male
Country: Australia (au)

Post 
DWill wrote:
Dissident Heart wrote:
I don't think there is any way around the terrible abuse and trauma that permeates Abraham's attempted sacrifice/murder of Isaac. No matter how you tell the story: someone is preparing to sacrifice, and another is prepared to be sacrificed. It is a horrible and revolting story. ....Like I have already stated in another thread, the Bible does not hide from the horrible and revolting: it exposes/confronts the worst elements of human and divine behavior...this story happens to contain both.

I'll grant you that your approach is very different from that which is used in any but a few very liberal churches. I would even call it a non-devotional approach. Worshipers generally want to revere the bible itself, not to see it as some kind of ironic or subversive commentary. And I think that here their instincts are right: there is no other way to read the Abraham/Isaac story but as representing simply and straightforwardly the proper way of faith.
Good reading DH. The Abraham-Isaac story is at the foundation of Israel, for Isaac’s son Jacob was renamed Israel. It places complete faith in God at the centre of Jewish identity.
Quote:
Quote:
if Abraham, our greatest of heroes, is capable of such depravity, then be sure those we entrust with power today are just as capable too.
But is there much basis for his heroism besides his performance in the fealty test, which you acknowledge to be depraved?
It makes me wonder about the fall from grace into corruption – Abraham’s depravity, like that of Moses much discussed by Hitchens, seems to indicate Abraham and Moses are lost without any clear idea. This son-murder archetype indicates a vengeful paternal streak, continued in the use of the murder of Christ as a symbol of human distance from God.
Quote:
Quote:
Likewise, our most important ideas, the non-negotiable and inexchangable notions and most cherished beliefs (eg, God or gods) can be used to encourage great harm and destruction.
I simply think that Abraham/Isaac is the wrong story to illustrate this truth.
It is the right story, as it embeds fanaticism as a core value of monotheism. Submission to a crazy idea is very destructive.
Quote:
Quote:
Second, the story is not unique in describing how fathers althruout history have sacrificed their sons for great ideals, religious fervor, personal delusion, or tribal wars and nationalist patriotism. Fathers all over the planet have demanded their sons go off to fight, kill and be killed for absurd, unjust and immoral ideals and objectives. Again, this story can be a reminder of the dangers of that kind of behavior: how easy it is to simply "follow orders" and submit to authority and be able to put self, family, and planet in harms way.

For me the key words in the paragraph are "can be a reminder." We have to ignore the clear intent of the bible passage in order to summon up this reminder.
But what is the ‘clear intent’ of the passage? Abraham Tested seems to justify precisely the patriarchal reading DH critiques.
Quote:
Quote:
Third, the story confronts the reader with some questions: what or whom do you worship? What are you willing to do in order to appease your highest ideal, most important obligation, fundamental principle, ultimate value, or God...Christopher Hitchens is has been a strong supporter of the "War on Terror" and has been willing to send fortune and bodies into warfare: knowing full well that innocents will be destroyed and injured...knowing full well that it will involve the killing of women and children and whole families and god-knows-what-else kind of terror that comes from warfare. Mr. Hitchens has reasons for sending US soldiers to kill and be killed: he has values and ideals that he feels must be upheld, even if women, childen, elderly and invalids are slaughtered along the way...he sees them as unavoidable casualties and necessary sacrifices for the greater mission. Where Abraham was forced to hold the knife in one hand, and Isaac's throat with the other...to face the actual, visceral, bloody consequences of his behavior....Mr. Hitchens sends other people's children off to combat where they will inevitably kill innocent children. And, Mr. Hitchens is not alone...all of us, at least US citizens, ae doing this right now as I type.

Mr. Hitchens has reasons. They might or might not be the right ones. That is our predicament in the world, not to be able to know whether all our actions will turn out to be right. Abraham had no reasons (he was not forced to hold the knife, either) for killing Isaac. What is objectionable is his total surrender to a very repellent command. Unquestioning loyalty has not been held as admirable for quite some time now. You don't disagree with this, presumably, but you say that our support for a war on terror is equivalent to giving up our minds. Whether we are right or wrong in this matter, I don't think we have parallel situations.
How ironic that Hitchens calls for an ironic rather than a literal reading of scripture, but himself exhibits Abraham’s behaviour of justifying a sacrifice of the innocent while excoriating Abraham. He obviously thought the sacrifice of innocent life in the Iraq War was for a greater good. However, that is disputable. In any case, there is a reasonable parallel between the patriarchal origins of Israel in the arbitrary behaviour of Abraham and the current Judeo-Christian patriarchal willingness to sacrifice the innocent.



Thu Apr 16, 2009 3:51 am
Profile Email WWW
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 34 posts ] • Topic evaluate: Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.  Go to page 1, 2, 3  Next



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:



Site Resources 
HELPFUL INFO:
Community Rules & Tips
Frequently Asked Questions
BBCode Explained
Author Interview Transcripts
Book Discussion Leaders

IDEAS FOR WHAT TO READ:
Bestsellers
Book Awards
Banned Books
• Book Reviews
• Online Books
• Team Picks
Newspaper Book Sections

WHERE TO BUY BOOKS:
• Coming Soon!

BEHIND THE BOOKS:
• Coming Soon!

PROMOTE YOUR BOOK!
Advertise on BookTalk.org
Promote your FICTION book
Promote your NON-FICTION book





BookTalk.org is a thriving book discussion forum, online reading group or book club. We read and talk about both fiction and non-fiction books as a community. Our forums are open to anyone in the world. While discussing books is our passion we also have active forums for talking about poetry, short stories, writing and authors. Our general discussion forum section includes forums for discussing science, religion, philosophy, politics, history, current events, arts, entertainment and more. We hope you join us!


Navigation 
MAIN NAVIGATION

HOMEFORUMSOUR BOOKSAUTHOR INTERVIEWSADVERTISELINKSFAQDONATETERMS OF USEPRIVACY POLICYSITEMAP

OTHER PAGES WORTH EXPLORING
Banned Book ListOnline Reading GroupTop 10 Atheism Books

Copyright © BookTalk.org 2002-2019. All rights reserved.
Display Pagerank