Judge not lest you be judged

A few days ago, I posted about the rise in antisemitism around the world. One of my readers, who I know is a good and kind woman, decried this trend, but then said something interesting: “And now many Jews insist that we hate Muslims to support them. [snip.] [E]very anti-Islamic article posted makes it that much harder to side with the Jews. No one should be forced to side with one ethnicity over another.” In other words, if I understand her correctly, by bad-mouthing Muslims, Jews are making themselves look bad and are therefore less sympathetic.

(This statement is not unique to this reader, and I don’t want any of you to pick on her. She’s part of a larger trend, and this trend definitely deserves consideration. Indeed, I am grateful to her for being honest so that we can discuss this matter. Any personal attacks against her are strictly off limits and I will delete them as soon as I can.)

The view my reader expressed seems to be a variation on two Biblical principles: “Judge not lest you be judged” and “turn the other cheek.” I’ve always understood these doctrines to apply to the individual, not to the state, and to mean that, within a civilized society, people have to avoid the sins of hypocrisy and should strive to get along with their neighbors. Multiculturalism, however, elevates these Biblical precepts to national policies that insist that victims of threats or aggression may not defend themselves. As one commentator said, in many circles, it is now worse to judge evil than to do evil. (I’d like to give attribution to that speaker, but I can’t find his name anywhere. He’s a British lecturer, if that helps any of you come up with his name.)

I’m actually happy to judge evil — because I know, with certainty, that I am not evil. That is, I don’t have to worry that, in judging others as evil, I might in turn be judged. I can cast rhetorical stones because, while I have my petty sins (I’m lazy, a bit hot-tempered, and I’m greedy when it comes to chocolate), I am not evil. The same holds true for Jews. As a group, they have the same foibles as the average run of citizens, but they are not, collectively, evil. They do not aim their guns intentionally at children, they do not use children to hide their own guns, and they do not revel in the deaths of children. Jews can judge those Muslims who got what they asked for (Gaza) and then launched more than 5,000 rockets into Israel, with the intent to kill civilians. Jews can judge those Muslims who have as their religious doctrine the requirement that the desired end of days be triggered, in part, by the slaughter of Jews. We are allowed to judge when we see evil.

I actually attribute this naive belief that all people are innately good — a belief that, in the modern era alone, should have given way in the face of the Nazi death camps, in Pol Pots killing fields, in Mao’s Great Leap Forward, in the Soviet Union’s lengthy auto-genocide — to a surprising source: Anne Frank. Since the 1950s, every single reasonably educated American has read Anne Frank’s luminous diary. And most American teachers — certainly mine, when I was in junior high school — spent an inordinate amount of time reiterating to us Anne’s most famous words, written on July 15, 1944, exactly two years after she and her family went into hiding to escape the Nazis:

It’s a wonder I haven’t abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart. It’s utterly impossible for me to build my life on a foundation of chaos, suffering and death. I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness, I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too, I feel the suffering of millions. And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty too shall end, that peace and tranquility will return once more. [Emphasis mine.]

Thanks to those words, just about every Western school child learns that “people are truly good at heart.” I think it was that sweet sentiment that my reader had in the back of her mind when she left her comment. In that world view, if everyone is good, it does indeed lessen the virtue of one group of people if they imply that another group of people may not, in fact, be “truly good at heart.” The problem is that Anne Frank was completely and totally wrong.

Before I get into the global wrongness of Anne’s position, it’s useful to understand the context in which Anne wrote those words, as well as to remember what happened to Anne within days of writing them. As Anne freely admited in the next sentence following her famous thought, she wrote those words because she needed to give meaning to a life spent in hiding and a world that had devolved into sadistic chaos.

Two weeks after writing her homage to human kind’s innate goodness, because of a tip from an informer, the Annex’s residents were rounded up by the Nazis and shipped off. Here’s what happened to them: Mr. Van Daan was gassed immediately on his arrival in Auschwitz. Mrs. Van Daan was shuffled from Auschwitz, to Bergen-Belsen, to Buchenwald, to Theresienstadt, and finally to another unknown camp where she apparently died shortly before war’s end. Peter van Daan survived a death march from Auschwitz to Mauthausen, only to die three days before the camp was liberated. Mr. Dussel, after having spent time in either Buchenwald or Sachenhausen, died in Neuengamme a few months after being arrested. Mrs. Frank died in Auschwitz from starvation and exhaustion. As for Anne and Margot:

Margot and Anne Frank were transported from Auschwitz at the end of October and brought to Bergen-Belsen concentrationton camp near Hanover (Germany). The typhus epidemic that broke out in the winter of 1944-1945, as a result of the horrendous hygienic conditions, killed thousands of prisoners, including Margot and, a few days later, Anne. She must have died in late February or early March. The bodies of both girls were probably dumped in Bergen-Belsen’s mass graves. (From the Afterward to The Diary of a Young Girl : The Definitive Edition, published by Anchor Books Doubleday in 1996)

Anne Frank did not die peacefully or gracefully. Instead, her last days on earth were a nightmare of cold, hunger, loneliness and fear:

Anne was briefly reunited with two friends, Hanneli Goslar (named “Lies” in the diary) and Nanette Blitz, who both survived the war. They said that Anne, naked but for a piece of blanket, explained she was infested with lice and had thrown her clothes away. They described her as bald, emaciated and shivering but although ill herself, she told them that she was more concerned about Margot, whose illness seemed to be more severe. Goslar and Blitz did not see Margot who remained in her bunk, too weak to walk. Anne said they were alone as both of their parents were dead.

Why am I emphasizing all this? Because I want to make it clear that Anne Frank was wrong. People are not innately good. Her words were whistling in the dark, written to give herself faith and courage under terrible circumstances. They cannot and should not be used as a yardstick for measuring human being’s natural state. And for Liberals to cling to this “ideology” moves beyond optimism into self-destruction.

Anyone who has children knows that, while they have a tremendous capacity for love, and have within them the seeds for reason and kindness, their innate state is more Lord of the Flies than anything else. Children are naturally violent, greedy and jealous. What tempers children is a society’s externally imposed value system. And these value systems don’t spring out of whole cloth. They are the results of centuries of give and take, violence, refining, and thought.

In a chauvinistic way that I’m not even going to bother to defend, I think our modern Judeo-Christian value system is one of the best ever created — and it’s not innate, it’s learned. I’ll go even further here: I don’t like the current fundamentalist Islamic value system, with its denigration of women, Jews, and non-Muslims, and its obsession with visiting extreme physical violence (and I include beheading and other slaughters) on those so denigrated.

I don’t think we in the West are innately good, or that those in the fundamentalist Islamic Middle East are inherently bad. I do think, however, that we have the better value system, and that it’s terribly dangerous for people to put their faith in Anne Frank’s touching but misguided words about humans’ innate goodness. Worse, this is not merely the misguided approach of a single good and kind person. Instead, a vast portion of the American population has bought into a teenage girls’ “whistling in the dark” musings and now tries to impose this naive view on American (and Israeli) foreign policy, hampering those countries’ ability to protect themselves against those whose value system calls for its enemies subjugation and death.

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  • Ymarsakar

    (I’m lazy, a bit hot-tempered, and I’m greedy when it comes to chocolate)

    Amazing, Book. That’s exactly the same character description for Ariel in Rats, Bats, and Vats. Which is really funny if you read the book and know the character in question.

    As a group, they have the same foibles as the average run of citizens, but they are not, collectively, evil.

    Their culture doesn’t promote evil, in fact rather the opposite. Whereas if you grew up in Arab culture, you would be far more likely to join evil’s crusade than not.

    It’s a wonder I haven’t abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart. It’s utterly impossible for me to build my life on a foundation of chaos, suffering and death. I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness, I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too, I feel the suffering of millions. And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty too shall end, that peace and tranquility will return once more. [Emphasis mine.]

    Of course it will Anne, for the mighty legions of America will save as many as she can and as many as she is allowed to.

    There are stronger nations and individuals in existence than those that serve evil. Stronger by several orders of magnitude. Such ideals can be created in reality, but it requires quite a bit of killing. And the goodness in people’s hearts are exposed often only through flaying the outer defenses and barriers away to get at the core. Much pain is the cost, but what you are buying with that pain is an end to much that is chaos and death personified.

    In that world view, if everyone is good

    Hey, Book, a good bar of steel or iron still has to be hammered into shape and tempered before it becomes a good piece of metal. The goodness in anything is only a potential. In order to bring it to actuality, one must exercise several different methods on the object or subject.

    That little detail is what most people miss and refuse to recognize. And it is something Anne never got the chance to learn, for her life was cut short. She had desires, dreams, and beliefs, but not the life knowledge or wisdom to know how to get there. But we do. We know what it will take. And we know who has to die for such beliefs to become reality. Anne recognized her ideals as impractical precisely because she knew people were petty and not very good at all either as individuals or as part of a group. Anne, in my view, was hoping that there was an innate human goodness locked into the human heart, that will spring into action sooner or later, because Anne did not see how to extract that goodness from people and make them act correctly. But we know how to extract those things, don’t we.

    The problem is that Anne Frank was completely and totally wrong.

    She was not so much wrong as she didn’t include a few vital details. The Devil is in the details after all.

    They cannot and should not be used as a yardstick for measuring human being’s natural state.

    Humans don’t really have a natural state. Sure, there are certain statistical averages that result from human nature and the human condition, but there is no natural state for human beings to be in. Other than if you mean by natural as “lacking free will” and becoming part of the animal kingdom again.

    I believe there is such a thing as human nature, meaning the fundamental foundation from which all our thoughts and actions spring from. I believe there are natural human impulses and instincts, but I don’t quite believe that there is a natural human “state”. Humans, having free will, pretty much has already corrupted any “state” they could be into something rather artificial.

    “Natural” I suppose can theoretically apply to whatever nature deems logical. The natural state of humanity is thus the state nature says we should be in. I suppose that is the best definition for such. Thus, there is no real static natural state for human beings. It is just whatever nature comes up with.

    I don’t like the current fundamentalist Islamic value system, with its denigration of women, Jews, and non-Muslims, and its obsession with visiting extreme physical violence (and I include beheading and other slaughters) on those so denigrated.

    It would be quite surprising if you did like it, Book ; )

  • Gringo

    By withdrawing its troops from Gaza in 2005, Israel gave land, and instead of peace, it got rocket attacks. We are operating on double standards when after the launching of thousands of rockets from Gaza, in response to Israel’s having withdrawn troops from Gaza, Israel is dissuaded from a forceful response to stop the rockets.

    Israel is supposed to give a “proportionate response.” Hamas has made it quite plain that they will never recognize the State of Israel: River to the Sea is What It Should Be. What, pray tell, is a “proportionate response” to an organization that wants to wipe the State of Israel off the face of the earth?

    It has been recommended that Jews should make friends with a Muslim. That is undoubtedly good advice, but has the advice also been offered that Muslims should make friends with Jews? There are 1.2 billion Muslims, and about 15 million Jews: that says who is mainstream and who is not.

    As for myself, were I Jewish, instead of being the card-carrying member of the Goyim that I am, I would be a little reluctant to make friends with a member of a religion whose preachers commonly refer to Jewish people as “apes and pigs.” In the early 1960s, KKK members and such racists made similar and worse references to blacks. Would one similarly have recommended that blacks in the 1960s make friends with a KKK member or with a white preacher who supported the KKK from the pulpit? Should Condi Rice, who had friends who were blown up in the Birmingham church in 1963, have made friends with the families of the bombers? Should Ann Frank and her family have made friends with a Nazi?

    In reply, one might say that since the Koran also refers to Jewish people as “apes and pigs,” that Muslim preachers are simply following “tradition.” A similar “tradition” is not permitting Christian churches in the entire territory of Saudi Arabia. Yet Saudi princes expect to be able to construct mosques all over the world. Muslim imperialism is their “tradition.” Should we respect these traditions of bigotry and imperialism?

    Not only are there mosques in Israel, there are also Arabs in the Knesset. Could you imagine Jewish people being granted such power in the Muslim countries in the Middle East? “And now many Jews insist that we hate Muslims to support them” is a statement difficult to swallow given these realities and given that the hatred is much larger and intense coming from the Muslim side. I suppose that it is chutzpah on the part of Jewish people not to like being called “apes and pigs.”

    Arafat led a raid in to Israel before the 1967 war. The issue then was not occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, because Egypt and Jordan then respectively administered those places, but the mere existence of Israel. Recall the response to the 1967 war of the Three Nos: No recognition of Israel, no land for peace, and no negotiation. Israel has long faced hostile neighbors. At least peace has been achieved with Jordan and Egypt. Now we have Iran, shipping rockets to Gaza and Lebanon, eager to get the bomb: “just to use on you know who.” (Thanks Tom, about to celebrate # 80.)

    Here is a commenter at the MVDG blogsite , from the article Tom Lantos Crosses the Line.

    “1. What happens if Israel lays down its arms and promises not to retaliate against any attack? Answer: Israel is destroyed later that afternoon. 2. What happens if the Arab countries surrounding Israel lay down their arms and promise not to retaliate against any attack? Answer: PEACE in the Middle East. ”

    This is the problem in the Middle East that Israel faces. Unfortunately, Kumbaya isn’t going to be the solution.

    (I am not linking to the preceding because Book’s software does not tolerate links.) BTW, Shrinkwrapped has some very good articles recently on the Arab Mind. There is a good article on Gaza in the July 1961 issue of the Atlantic Monthly, which shows not much has changed.

  • Gringo

    the coloring makes it difficult to see, but “apes and pigs” in the preceding is a link.

  • Allen

    If Hitler and others like him have taught us anything it should be that we must take people at their word when they say things. I for one believe the Palestinians and the Iranians when they say ‘death to the Jews.” If it were possible for them to do it they would.

    One must discount everything they say, and do, to believe they don’t really mean it. Many Jews in Germany didn’t really believe their nation would do that to them. We know how well that worked out.

    It is not prejudice to take someone at their word. I note that Israel is not saying every day, “death to the Persians,” or “death to the Palestinians.” When people’s words and their actions do not include genocide, then and only then, will I consider sitting down with them. I will not sup with the devil.

  • Ymarsakar

    If it were possible for them to do it they would.

    But the West isn’t concerned about whether that happens or not. Anymore than they consider it all that important how many die in Rwanda, Iraq, China, Cuba, Iran, etc.

  • Ymarsakar

    We are operating on double standards when after the launching of thousands of rockets from Gaza

    The US has been operating on double standards in the fight against evil since the Cold War.

    But before that, we had the Civil War as well.

  • Danny Lemieux

    Let me share with you a different take, Book. First, I agree with your assessment of the duality of human nature. Judeo-Christianity recognizes the dualism of our natures – that good coexists with evil in all of us. We are all fallen angels with the freedom to choose between good and evil.

    It was Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the post-Enlightenment romanticist that provided the foundation of Secular Socialism with his premise that people were born essential “good” but corrupted by their environment and the view that Humanity could be restored to its essential “goodness” by manipulating Man’s institutions. It is sadly ironic to me that Anne Frank’s premise was based on the same premise that gave rise to the Nazis’s murderous campaign to “remake” the world along Rousseau’s twisted vision of humanity. This was the foundation of my previous questions to HelenL about how she perceived human nature.

    So, having said this, I strongly disagree with your self-assessment that you “know” you are not evil.

    I personally don’t know whether I am or am not evil. I HOPE that I am not but that is for others to judge (“judge not” also applies to oneself). If I understand Dennis Prager correctly, one key difference between Judaism and Christianity is that Judaism judges people by their actions, not their thoughts whereas, sadly, we poor Christians are also held to account for our thoughts. That being said, I agree with you, we need to be able to judge others by their actions, however, even if we cannot judge them by their motives.

    I do recognize this about myself, however: that in the wrong circumstances, I am fully capable of committing evil and I really won’t know how I will choose until put to the test. Therefore, I work hard to ensure that this never happens. I have found that it is precisely those people who have convinced themselves to that they are “good” that are the most blind to their own failings, be it “born again” Christians or Liberal/Lefties that have absolved themselves of even the remote possibility of being racist bigots. Lord knows that God has a way to constantly reminding me of my own failings every time that I get too self-satisfied.

    Book, I KNOW that you are a good person through your postings. However, I also KNOW that you are good because you struggle day in and day out in your quest to be good and do good. “Goodness” isn’t a state of being, it’s an ongoing battle. We don’t know how we will choose into the future, given the circumstances. We can only work to ensure we make the right decisions at the right time. Do you agree?

  • Ymarsakar

    One of the more effective methods to spread evil and the destruction of justice in the world is to corrupt the good intentions of men and women who wish to do good. Servants of darkness can appeal to a man’s greed and personal ambition but they also can appeal to a good man’s compassion for his neighbors and his duty to his family.

    The pure are corrupted by blackmail. Which is to say that even the purest of intentions or states can fall due to the actions of another. Loyalty to family or love of one’s children can be used for evil as well as good. And it doesn’t particularly matter what somenoe’s intentions are or aren’t, given the fact that the work of evil proceedes apace regardless of what good men or women think or do. The barbarians are always at the gates; having good intent or goals are no defense against such.

    The custom of hostage taking is a good example of this. IT can be used for good or evil. You can hold diplomatic hostages in order to prevent war between two factions or you can do as the Islamic fighters for evil do, you can use it to kill, hurt, maim, and extort money from good men and women. To use the work of those people to fund even larger operations to corrupt more men and women who might have successfully resisted had not the hostage-ransom been paid and collected by terrorists. The people that paid the ransom, then, are no longer good. They have sullied their souls and willingly become attachments to the servants of darkness. They have placed their own importance above the importance of humanity. They have placed their own desires above the desires of those weaker than they, by exploiting the weaknesses of those weaker than they to protect themselves temporarily. They may have paid the ransom now and gotten their valued person back, but this comes at the cost of sacrificing more people to terrorism and kidnapping. Of course, the ransom payers don’t give a damn about those other people. Thus do the pure fall to corruption. Of course, European ransom payers weren’t “pure” to begin with, not even close. Makes it even easier in a way.

    Germany was not corrupted and seized by Hitler because he appealed to the German need to do evil, Danny. It is not ironic in the least that evil requires the hard work of people like Anne Frank to gain the strength to spread across the globe. It makes perfect sense and is perfectly logical. If you believe as I do, that evil is intrinsically weaker than the good, then it makes perfect sense that evil must have the help of the good to win.

    It could be ironic if people thought that evil was obvious or known, or that it had no need for the loyalty of good people, but if people never thought that, then it would not be surprising in the least that the same sentiments and desire for justice in Germany that led to Hitler was the same sentiments Anne Frank held.

    A baseline metaphysical definition for good and evil is that evil takes away and destroys while good creates. This is not an ethical standard, of course, given that not all creation would be good and not all destruction would be evil. The Ethics of Good and Evil, though, centers around what is best for humanity and what is best for the individual in the harnessing of the powers of creation and destruction. Like how much political power should government hold over people, and how should government decide what powers it does or does not have, etc.

    It is perhaps not a coincidence that if all evil men and women did was destroy, that they would eventually destroy themselves. Yet when that will happen really depends upon how much creation power has been given to evil men like Hitler and the women that support and enable such beings. The more the West feeds wealth and created goods into Arabia, the more time the evil there has to spread using those goods and power born not of destruction but of creation.

    Pure evil, then, is rare in existence since it is hard to maintain such a state and not go down in flames sooner or later. Since human beings are mortal, it is hard to maintain a level of pure evil for long. Not without support from others that is.

    What you can do if you wish to maintain a stable sort of evil is to have the culture indoctrinate every new generation in the destructive power and allure of evil. The Palestinians and Communists developed some such methods, of course. That way, you steal the power of God while at the same time wielding the ability to destroy.

    Usually only good men and women have the power of both destruction and creation. Evil has to cheat to get such a balance, by corrupting each new generation into self-destructive methods of thought and action.

    The solution to such a construct is not to convert one individual at a time through understanding them. No amount of comprehending what the Palestinian culture is will get rid of that culture and replace it with something better. Only war, force, and violence will ever turn away a people from their culture to something better. Only utter devastating defeat can make people reject their culture as a thing of false hopes.

    Anne Frank never got old enough to learn anything about how culture affects an individual’s actions and destiny. She was never given a choice to decide which side she will be on, the only choices she was given were those that she was born to. No amount of comprehension could change that for Anne.

    Any civilization or society that either cannot or will not defend their youngest against the depredations of evil and corruption, does not deserve to exist. And in the end, evil will become stronger than they because they sacrificed their young for ideological justifications that violence was wrong or fighting to preserve their traditions was no longer convenient. Evil is happy to take in disaffected youths that wish to create justice in the world. If you will not use violence and effective action to change the world for the better, then evil will step in just like Hitler did and give you a deal you or your children cannot refuse.

  • http://helenl.wordpress.com/ Helen Losse

    Danny said, “Book, I KNOW that you are a good person through your postings. However, I also KNOW that you are good because you struggle day in and day out in your quest to be good and do good. “Goodness” isn’t a state of being, it’s an ongoing battle. We don’t know how we will choose into the future, given the circumstances. We can only work to ensure we make the right decisions at the right time. Do you agree?”

    To which I say, Amen. Amen. Amen. Amen.

    Human beings are much more fragile than we pretend, which is why it is important for us to treat each other kindly, whether we agree with one another or not.

  • Danny Lemieux

    Hi Book. I didn’t want you to think that I was labeling you evil, by the way. I was trying to make the point that we all have the capacity for evil within us. I think that you will be able to relate when I say that, should someone ever willingly harm my children, I would likely commit one more more very evil acts.

  • suek

    >>…should someone ever willingly harm my children, I would likely commit one more more very evil acts.>>

    Which would then not be evil, since they were committed in defense of your children…

  • Danny Lemieux

    I’m talking about after the fact, suek. Before the fact, anything goes. However, I do believe in the Big Guy when He says, “Vengeance is mine”.

    That should have been “one or more”, by the way. I am a lousy editor…what can I say?

  • rockdalian

    Slightly off topic BW, but I don’t know if you saw this story(.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article3537593.ece) at the Timesonline. 800 Jews were protected by the Nazi who created the “final solution”. They were on Adolf Eichmann’s list.
    Found this story over at jameshudnall.com/blog.
    Certainly is fascinating.

  • Mike Devx

    I believe in our dual possibilities. We’re neither innately good nor evil, none of us. No religion, ethnicity, race, gender, etc, has a claim to innate goodness.

    I reject Robert Spencer’s claim that Islam is, by its very nature, the root of the problem. I will use a comparison here between Christianity and Islam that some will claim is moral equivalency.

    It was not that long ago in the USA that Biblical quotes were used (selectively) to justify and uphold slavery. These quotes were used by politicians and by preachers. There are many other verses in the Bible that would curl your hair if you knew about them! But the ciritical point is this: All of these verses have been reinterpreted over time. The verses are now thought to be contextual – of THAT certain time in THAT certain place; or else the verses have simply been repudiated and ignored.

    The problem today is with the form of Islam that is ascendant. Islam is just as capable of reform as was Christianity. But reform is not inevitable. I see few to no voices within current Islam that advocate reform. Jihadist Islam is ascendant and winning the internal argument within the Muslim world. If there are “good Muslims” they are quiet. Mostly it is apostates, and under assumed names, that speak out against current Islamic thought.

    The *current form* of Islam is mostly evil and must be resisted. If Islam cannot reform itself, the result will be quite bloody in the end.

  • Ymarsakar

    All of these verses have been reinterpreted over time.

    Which means they have changed their religion and the way people believed in it.

    This can be done either through the Reformation of the Catholic Church or creating your own version of it via Lutheranism and Protestantism.

    Islam is just as capable of reform as was Christianity

    Christianity embraced the Enlightenment. Islam hasn’t. To say that the two are equivalent in terms of capability would be to equate Enlightenment principles with the same efficacy as human misery in making things better for the world.

    I see few to no voices within current Islam that advocate reform.

    When they actually act on their beliefs and do what Martin Luther did, then we’ll see what happens. Until then, they’re just Erasmuses. And they operate under far more chains than Erasmus and his satire ever did.

  • suek

    Actually, there are two groups that I know of: Muslims against Sharia, and there’s also a Reform Islam group – the first one is correct by name and has a web site, but I’m not sure about the correct name of the second. I think it’s located in Florida, though.

  • http://OgBlog.net Earl

    I think that “Judge not, lest ye be judged” has got to be (one of) the most misconstrued texts in Scripture……

    In context, this text is prohibiting us from judging another person’s standing with G-d, something we are incapable of knowing. Remember that “man looketh on the outward appearance, but G-d looketh on the heart.” If you think, as I allowed myself to do some years ago, that there are occasions when we can be sure of G-d’s rejection of some particularly awful person, just remember Bernard Nathanson. if his name rings no bells, get his book The Hand of G-d (it’s at Amazon) and see how far G-d will go for His children, and what He can do if there is confession of sin followed by repentance. Inspiring story.

    Anyhow, to construe this text to mean that I can’t say “Killing an unborn child is evil” is to contradict the Bible itself, which specifically says that we are to judge actions, our own as well as others, and to communicate our judgment, so that our brothers/sisters can come back to the right path. But we are not allowed to judge the sinner as beyond G-d’s power to save – something that’s still hard for me in certain cases of particular sins committed over long periods.

    It’s a dereliction of Christian duty not to identify the killing of innocents as evil, and worse, to suggest that there is ANYthing that justifies such activities. My understanding of the Jewish perspective (and I’m certainly open to correction on this) is that it’s roughly “You are what you do”, so that if you’re a wife-beater, you’re an evil man. I personally have no trouble with that – the only thing I’m saying is that the text at issue indicates that we have to leave the door open to G-d’s mercy in cases where true repentance occurs. And if Bernard Nathanson was still on G-d’s list, then I suppose Osama must be, too……difficult as it is for me to imagine!

    :-)

  • http://helenl.wordpress.com/ Helen Losse

    Earl, God is God not G-d. If you don’t know that, why would I (or anyone) think you know anything about God?

  • Deana

    Helen –

    What is wrong with Earl referring to God as G-d?

  • Ymarsakar

    Earl, God is God not G-d. If you don’t know that, why would I (or anyone) think you know anything about God?

    Talk about being ignint and the stereotypical parochial religious intolerant.

    No Jews or Christians can give respect to God by not naming him in vain, oh no, we can’t have that now can we.

    3. very limited or narrow in scope or outlook; provincial: parochial views; a parochial mentality.

    God save us from the righteous, since pacifism sure as heck ain’t going to.

    What is wrong with Earl referring to God as G-d?

    It’s just helen’s wraparound method of trying to chip away at arguments from Earl she didn’t like reading.

    Some high intensity emotion filtered through where it wasn’t supposed to go, you may say.

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