Thursday, April 15, 2010

Some Thoughts on Paul Gottfried’s THE MYTH OF ‘JUDEO-CHRISTIAN’ VALUES

Gottfried’s article offers fresh perspectives on Jewish-Christian relations. The term ‘Judeo-Christian’ has become part of the political, cultural, and spiritual lexicon in the Western World. Both Jews and Christians have reasons for embracing the term. Jews, vastly outnumbered by Christians, use the term to remind the majority that their religion is an outgrowth of the Jewish religion. Given the history of the persecution of Jews–blamed for the murder of Jesus–at the hands of Christians, it’s useful to persuade Christians that Judaism and Christianity are cultural-spiritual relatives. ‘Judeo-Christian’ reminds Christians with latent antisemitic feelings that Christianity is the spiritual offshoot of Judaism.
But the term is useful to Christians too. In the 20th century, especially after the Holocaust, it’s been argued that the Nazi genocide of the Jews was the culmination of Christian antisemitism. Christians are eager to demonstrate that Godless neo-paganism was to blame and that Christians, despite their stained history, really appreciate and love Jews and Jewish tradition. By embracing the concept of Judeo-Christian tradition and values, Christians seek to distance themselves from the horrors of extreme antisemitism.
There is another reason why Christians embrace ‘Judeo-Christian’. Jews are immensely wealthy, powerful, and influential(and immune to criticism thanks to a clever playing of the Holocaust card), and therefore Christians want to ingratiate themselves with the Jews. If Christians were filled with sympathy for Jews after WWII, they are now filled with fear and guilt–by the 60s, Jews not only accused Germans but all gentile whites, directly or indirectly, for the Holocaust. Fearing and trembling before Jewish power, Christians are desperate to win Jewish approval and love by Hannukazing Christmas and being even more blindly pro-Zionist than most American Jews are.

Paul Gottfried makes a good point about how relatively recent the phenomenon of Jewish-Christian collaboration is, especially when it comes to a shared revulsion for the Muslim world. Many Christians think mutual respect between Jews and Christians has a long pedigree when the two communities had been marked more by enmity than amity.
Of course, Jews know better, not least because your average Jew is likely to be better read, educated, and knowledgeable than your average Guns-and-God white Christian. Though there are opportunists on both sides, a greater number of Christians than Jews have a simple-minded notion that Jews and Christians are natural allies against the Muslims–when in fact, Jews are only using white Christians to fight anti-Zionist Muslim enemies in the Middle East. If it weren’t for Israel and the resultant hostility between Jews and Muslims, most Jews would surely be using Muslims and Arabs as another ‘people of color’ victim group against the ‘racist’ and ‘neo-imperialist’ West–just as Jews have played that card using Latin Americans against Gringos for decades.
Even so, the dynamics of shifting alliances and allegiances between Jews and Christians is nothing new or extraordinary. It’s a common theme throughout history. When France was powerful, Anglos and Germans were ‘natural’ allies. When Germany became the premier European power, Britain and France became ‘natural’ allies. When Japan was the first East Asian nation to modernize, Americans favorably viewed Japanese influence in Asia as a Westernizing and modernizing force. US didn’t protest Japan’s occupation of Taiwan, Korea, Manchuria, and other parts of China. It’s only when Japan became overly ambitious that US leaned closer to China and grew wary of Japan.
During WWII, Americans and Chinese were supposedly great friends and allies while the Japanese were a nation of degenerate imperialist monkeys. But after the war and especially when the communists conquered China, Japan became the democratic and peace-loving friend of the US while China suddenly became evil and totalitarian Empire of the Blue Ants.
So, perceptions of other peoples evolve along with the political climate. Friends can suddenly become enemies, enemies can suddenly become friends. France had long been regarded as a friend of the US, from the Revolutionary War through World War II. But there has been bad blood too. French have been prone to see America as an Anglo-dominated superpower, an monstrous perversion of British power. The French aided the American colonials against it arch enemy, the British Empire, but United States eventually became another Anglo-dominated superpower whose relation with Britain, in the long run, proved deeper than one with France. Besides, there’s the lingering feeling that both the Anglo-British and Anglo-Americans stole Canada from the French. Though US is now a nation ruled by the Jewish Power Elite, many French are still likely to associate the US with Anglo-power.

Throughout the world and history, some peoples and nations are more likely to be friends or enemies. This is due to geography, race, religion, or ideology. The ideology of communism at one time forged an alliance between the Russia-dominated USSR and China, but age-old differences and tensions eventually revived ancient hostilities. The West and the Near East often clashed for cultural, racial, and religious–Christianity vs Islam–reasons. The relations between US and Canada–both settled largely by Anglos–have been smoother and more stable than between the US and Mexico, a mestizo majority nation with a white Hispanic elite.

Alliances and allegiances shift back and forth. Extraordinary and exceptional–in the aftermath of WWII–is the fact that most whites have become blindly and mindlessly pro-Jewish and pro-Zionist no matter what the Jews do. This isn’t the case in Eastern Europe where people readily express hostility against the Jews IF Jews are perceived to be harmful to their interests. But, the rise of Holocaustianity–essentially a secular substitute for Christianity whereby Anne Frank is the new Virgin Mary and Jews are the new Jesus(or Jewsus)–, there is an irrational slavishness toward Jews on the part of many white gentiles.
Just as the ancient Hebrews were commanded to bow down before God at all times and never question His authority, there is a kind of deification of the Jew or Judeification in the West.
It’s sinful to even ask if Jews and their agendas may be evil or harmful to the West. Though whites are still allowed to oppose the agendas of the liberal and neocon Jews–about 95% of the Jewish community–, they are not allowed, at least in mainstream circles, to point out ‘JEWS ARE DOING THIS TO US.’

So, the shifts of alliances/allegiances per se among Christians and Jew are not out of order. For the sake of Israel, it’s only natural for Jews to forge an alliance with the Christian Right. And there are certain advantages for Christians too, though far less.
What is really odd is that white gentiles–Christians or otherwise–have pledged not only a political but also a spiritual allegiance to the Jews–even to secular Jews. Political allegiances can be broken depending on changing political climate. US and USSR were partners during WWII but then enemies during the Cold War. No white American thought he must love Russians NO MATTER WHAT. Similarly, Germany was an enemy during WWII but a friend during the Cold War.
Spiritual allegiances, on the other hand, are irrational and impervious to reality. The problem is Western whites are now devoted to Jews in the way ancient Hebrews were devoted to Yahweh.

Even so, the concept of ‘Judeo-Christian values’ is not without merit, especially in the context of secular modern world. ‘Judeo-Christian’ doesn’t necessarily refer to religion or spirituality. It also has a cultural and moral meaning. For instance, secular liberals, socialists, and communists can argue that they too are part of the Judeo-Christian cultural legacy since universalism and egalitarianism have roots in Christianity which has roots in Judaism. No Judaism, no Christianity. No Christianity, no Western universalism and egalitarianism. So, when ‘Judeo-Christian’ is used morally, philosophically, and culturally than religiously or historically, it’s not without validity.

When Christians were devoutly Christian and Jews were dogmatically Jewish, there was indeed much distrust and hostility between two groups. Jews saw themselves as the chosen children of God and regarded Jesus as a heretic. Christians saw Jews as the spiritually stingy killers of Jesus
blind to the everlasting truth of Jesus. It was the Eternal Jew vs the Everlasting Christian. Jews and Christians who were mentally and emotionally confined within their religious dogmas were less likely to see the moral and philosophical connection between the two faiths–similar to the one between Hinduism and Buddhism.
It was only with the decline of religious authority among both Christians and Jews–especially following Emancipation–that the connections between Judaism and Christianity became more apparent. With the rise of Reason and Science, both secularized Jews and Christians began to approach the Old Texts–Jewish and Christian–more as history, literature, and culture than literally as religion.

Even so, one could make a religious case for the ‘Judeo-Christian’ concept as well. Though Jews rejected Jesus as Christ or the Messiah, they had long had a prophetic tradition in Judaism awaiting the arrival of such figure. And even though Jews maintained their tribal ways and customs, their concept of the ONE AND ONLY GOD over all mankind was bound to lead to a universalized form of Judaism, which eventually became Christianity.
Indeed, prior to the coming of Jesus, some Jews had tried to convert gentiles to Judaism. Jews, however, demanded that converts not only accept the creed of the Jews but also dress, eat, and live like Jews. And men were expected to be circumcised. It wasn’t easy to be a Jew and not much fun.
Christianity was a real breakthrough because, like Buddhism, it set aside all the mumbo jumbo tribal cultural stuff and emphasized the spirit and creed. Though Christianity revolutionized certain precepts in Judaism and soon set itself against the older religion, there’s no question that Christianity is the intellectual, spiritual, and historical descendant of Judaism. A son may hate his father, but he is still the son. God came to hate His creation of Man, but there was affection and pride too.
Similarly, Lenin and Mao may have deviated from orthodox Marxism, but they too were the children of Marx.

There was a great contradiction within Judaism, one that cried out to be resolved. The spiritual crisis became more acute as Jewish consciousness evolved from the mythic to the historical. As the thoughts and dealings of the Jews became more worldly and political–and better documented–, Jews felt a growing distance between themselves and God. Worse, Jews were under pressure from both Greco-Roman militarism and cosmopolitanism. They were threatened with the stick and tempted with the carrot. If pagan peoples accommodated themselves under Pax Romana, the religion of the Jews made this more difficult. Pagan peoples respected the gods of mightier peoples since their concept of godly power was measured in materialistic terms. If the Romans were powerful, their gods must be powerful too–indeed more powerful than one’s own gods. But Jews had a different way of measuring spiritual power. Their God was the one and only true god while all the rest were false idols. Romans had problems with this spiritual intransigence just as American troops have problems with the Taliban in Afghanistan. (In the modern world, secular Jews worship their own brilliance, wit, and genius as godly, and thus cannot accommodate themselves to the world of the gentiles. Rather, the gentiles must embrace the TRUTH ACCORDING TO THE JEWS.)

Judaism is nothing without profound contradictions. It has been, at once, fiercely tribal and profoundly universal, doggedly conservative and fervently revolutionary. There was ONE GOD but God favored a particular people. But through his chosen people, all the peoples of the world would be blessed. There was a great emphasis on love, justice, and wisdom. There was also a great deal of advice on opportunism and power-lust–essentially on how to deal with filthy and stupid goyim. Judaism taught Jews to respect and live with gentiles. It also taught Jews to look upon gentiles as dogs unfit for Kosher food.
The contradiction within Judaism–between its universalist concept of God and its tribal laws/ particularist customs–was somewhat similar to the contradiction in American history between the Constitution and white racism. The Constitution guaranteed freedom and equal political rights to all men, but whites still practiced slavery in the South until the end of the Civil War. Even after the end of slavery, American government, society, and culture favored whites–especially Northern European whites–over others though the Constitution banned such things.
Just as the contradiction in American History was bound to produce the Civil Rights movement and the rise of men like Michael King–aka Martin Luther King Jr–, Judaism was bound to produce someone like Jesus, especially a time of major crisis.
To the extent that Jesus, his disciples, early followers, and men like Paul were Jews, Christianity was indeed a direct outgrowth of Judaism. Christianity was not created by gentiles who ‘stole’ from Judaism and distorted matters for their own purposes. Christianity was created by Jews themselves, and as such, even though most Jews rejected Christianity, it has a direct connection to Judaism, not only spiritually and culturally but ethnically. Christianity was later adopted by pagan gentiles who came to define and dominate the movement, but it genuinely and authentically grew out of Jewish traditions and from Jews themselves. It is crucial that Jesus and his followers were mostly Jewish.

Though Christianity was sufficiently different from Judaism, it was morally and intellectually a ‘logical’ progression from the earlier religion. Christianity successfully resolved the contradiction between universalist God and particularist tribalism. For God to belong to all men, the emphasis had to be placed on the meaning and love of God, not on what Jews did with their food or dicks. Though Christianity required converts to reject their pagan ways, there were–notwithstanding the elaborate ritualism of some Christian sects or denominations–very limited rules on diet, dress, rituals, and etc if any. Christian advice on food was moral–"don’t be a glutton"–than cultural–"don’t eat lobsters.".
So, given the direct link between Judaism and Christianity, one can speak of the Judeo-Christian tradition. Jews created Christianity, and Christianity successfully and ‘logically’ resolved the Judaic contradictions. That they became bitter enemies still doesn’t disprove this fundamental fact. After all, the notion of Earth revolving around the Sun grew out of the idea of Sun revolving around the Earth. Even if the earlier belief had been wrong, it still paved the way for the Copernican model by conceptualizing Earth and Sun as spherical heavenly bodies whereby one revolved around the other. Galileo and Copernicus couldn’t have arrived at the correct observation without there having been an earlier theory proposing that the Sun revolved around the Earth.
This isn’t to imply that Christianity is superior to Judaism but only to point out that Christianity was morally a more satisfying religion given the nature of God in the Old Testament. If there is only one God and if He offers the way for the redemption of all mankind, then there was a need for a religion with a bigger scope than Judaism.

However, the element of Son-of-God business must have been pagan in origin since there’s nothing in the Old Testament that would indicate God would give birth to flesh-and-blood Man as Zeus or Odin did in pagan mythologies. Perhaps, Christianity would have been more appealing to Jews if not for this quasi-pagan element. It’s also possible that it was more appealing to pagans precisely because pagan myths were rife with stories of gods having sex with women who then gave birth to half-god/half-man folks.
On that element, Judaism is indeed closer to Islam than to Christianity. Both Judaism and Islam find the idea of Son of God ridiculous. And one could argue it is the weakest part of Christianity. Perhaps it would have made more sense if Jesus was said to have been an angel sent by God to live and die as man.
Even so, one cannot speak of a Judeo-Islamic tradition in the way we can speak of a Judeo-Christian tradition. Nor can we speak of a Judeo-Christo-Islamic tradition.
Christianity really grew out of Judaism. It was the creation of Jews dealing specifically with contradictions within Judaism itself. Christianity began as a Jewish thing and then spread out to non-Jews.
Islam, in contrast, didn’t sprout from Jews or Judaism nor from Christians or Christianity. Muhammad was neither a Jew nor a Christian. If Christianity organically evolved out of Judaism–like the polar bear evolved from a brown bear–, Islam has no organic roots in either Judaism and Christianity. Muhammad clearly came in contact with Jews and Jewish ideas and Christians and Christian ideas, but he remained a man apart. Islam wasn’t so much like the polar bear that evolved out of a brown bear but more like a tiger that donned the hides of both brown and polar bears.

Christians worshiped the New Testament, but they didn’t alter nor tamper with the Old Testament. Both Testaments were respected as sacred texts. The New may have been a revolutionary departure from the Old, but it directly sprang from the latter.
Muhammad did something far more radical. He denigrated both the Old and New Testaments as corrupted and flawed texts and rewrote the whole thing based on his visions or delusions. If the New Testament was a sequel to the Old Testament–like Godfather II is to Godfather I–, the Koran is a complete remake. It is based on elements in the Old and New Testaments, but it is not a continuation of those traditions.

The fact that for most of their history Jews had an easier time with Muslims than with Christians may suggest that Jews have more in common with Muslims than Christians, but the truth is far more deceptive.
Paradoxically, one could argue Jews had an easier time with Muslims precisely because Jews had less in common with Muslims than with Christians. For Muslims, Jews were simply the People of the Book who were as yet too benighted to accept the ultimate truth of the Koran. Jews could be tolerated as such.
In contrast, Christians had a much deeper emotional investment–both positive and negative–in the Jews. Jews were the killers of the Christ, yes. But, Jews were also the people through which mankind would gain salvation, redemption, and the return of Christ. Muslims hoped that Jews would convert to Islam but didn’t care much beyond that. Christians, on the other hand, had a much deeper emotional commitment in the fate of Jews. Conversion of the Jews was seen as necessary not only for Jews but for Christians since the salvation of the entire world depended on Jewish redemption. This love/hate for the Jews marked all of Christian history. Consider Martin Luther who had placed great hopes in the Jews, only to bitterly turn against them when Jews proved to be stubbornly Jewish. Familiarity breeds contempt. The most powerful passions–good and bad–exist within the family. A husband and wife or a father and son are capable of greater love or hatred of one another than a worker and a co-worker. Christians accepted the direct connection between the Old and the New Testaments, and therefore insisted that the Jews get with the program. Only the New could redeem the Old, and only the conversion of the Old could redeem the New. Muslims, on the other hand, were blithely confident in the superiority of the Koran over both the Old and the New Testaments.
Christians, in accepting the sacredness of the Old Testament, wanted Jews to accept the sacredness of the New Testament. (Something perversely similar exists in today’s politics. If old-time Christians wanted Jews to respect New Testament universalism in exchange for Christian respect for Old Testament particularism, today’s Christian Right wants Jews to support white nationalist particularism in exchange for the Right’s recognition of Jews as universal saints.) Muslims don’t much care what Jews or Christians think. Their Koran is the only truly holy book, and it’s only a matter of time before the world is converted to Islam.

Islam and Judaism may superficially seem similar on the outside, but Judaism has deeper connections to Christianity. It’s like English uses a lot of French words but it is really a Germanic language. It’s true that Muslims adopted a lot of superficial customs from the Jewish religion. A hairy rabbi looks more like a hairy iman than like a well-shaven and crisp looking Christian priest. And, it’s true that both Jews and Muslims go for circumcision and dietary laws.
But, we must keep in mind that Islam also incorporated a lot of local Arab customs that were alien to the Jews. And before Muhammad reformulated Allah into the monotheistic God of Ibrahim, Allah had been one of the indigenous Arab gods. Allah, in this sense, isn’t an Arab version of Yahweh/Jehovah but a remaking of an indigenous Arab deity into an imitation of the Judeo-Christian God.

Furthermore, Islam failed to resolve the contradictions within Judaism but only compounded their problems. And it certainly was no improvement on Christianity. The only possibly superior thing about Islam over Christianity is the greater honesty about power. ‘Turn the other cheek’ stuff just doesn’t work in this world, and indeed, even the West gained dominance through aggression and violence. For this reason, Muslims are incapable of the kind of suicidal self-loathing that has overtaken the West rooted in Christian conscience. Muslims don’t lose sleep over all the wars they’ve fought, lands they conquered, peoples they’ve forcibly converted, or the slaves that they’ve owned.
The greater emphasis on individual conscience and collective morality has made it possible for the West to make greater social and political progress, but an excess of that stuff is now leading white folks to their ruin.

Nevertheless, Islam wasn’t much of an improvement on Judaism or Christianity. If Christianity really did resolve a troubling contradiction within Judaism and formulated a universal faith, what original contribution did Islam make to spirituality? If anything, Islam is a muddled mess. It is both painstakingly particularist and painfully universalist. It insists that Allah is for all peoples and all cultures but then demands that all cultures and all peoples live like Arab tribes of the 7th century.
It’s like a Romanian communist insisting that it’s not enough for all peoples around the world to read Marx and practice socialism but that they must also dress, eat, sing, dance, and speak as Romanians do. Islam similarly tries to have it both ways. It tries to be Jewish, Christian, and tribal-Arab at the same time, and then puts forth this ungodly concoction as the salvation for all mankind.
It’s no wonder that Christianity had greater appeal around the world–and not only because of the rise of Western imperialism. It’s easier to convert a Chinese or African to Christianity than to Islam.
Perhaps, the features of Islam were necessary for Muhammad if he were to succeed and gain power in his lifetime. After all, Jesus got killed and his followers got hurt real bad until their religion finally took hold centuries later. For Muhammad to gain political power over the Arabs, he had to pander to their tribal ways, customs, and prejudices. He could be bold intellectually but not culturally. (Similarly, Stalin brought back Russian nationalism to win the hearts and minds of the masses who little understood Marxist theory. And Christian kingdoms and nations developed their own ethnic version of Christianity. Even so, Christianity and Marxism maintained a strict wall between theory and practice. A German Christian may have practiced a Christianity different from that of a French Christian, but neither a German Christian nor a French Christian would have mistook his national and ethno-cultural traditions for the soul of Christianity. Similarly, though Soviet communism was heavily Russian and nationalist, no Russian communist would have said communism is synonymous with Russianness. But Islam, though striving to be universal, did become synonymous with Arab culture and customs of the 7th century.) Muhammad had to flatter the Arabs that their culture–much of it anyway–was pretty cool stuff and worthy of being emulated by–or forced upon–all the other peoples of the world. A man who seeks worldly power can never be as morally or intellectually purist or consistent as Jesus and his early followers who were willing to die for their ideals. Those who are willing to kill for their ideals tend to have more compromised or muddled ideals.

Finally, Jews in the Christian world gained greater prominence than Jews in the Muslim world, and therefore there is a tendency to associate the Jews with the Christian West than with the Muslim Near East. Though Jews did prosper in Muslim lands, their success could only go so far since the Muslim world turned static and stagnant. A rich Jewish merchant in Syria of the 19th century was likely to have fewer possibilities than a rich Jewish banker in 19th century Europe. A Jewish scholar in the Muslim would couldn’t achieve as much as Jewish scientists in modern Europe. Of course, Jewish Emancipation coincided with the decline of Christian power in Europe, but even secular Europe could be seen as a cultural and moral outgrowth of Christian Europe.
Today, Jews own and control much of the Christian world whereas they have no power in Muslim countries. And Israel could not have been established without modern Western Imperialism which functioned as a kind of neo-Crusade in the 20th century.
Both the greatest triumphs and tragedies of the Jews happened in the Christian West. Holocaust happened in the German empire, and the Super Jew phenomenon happened in the US. Jews also committed their greatest crimes in the Christian West, especially as agents of communism–to an extent, a secularized form of Judeo-Christianism–and anti-white-ism. (Obama and the coming decline of white power in the US are largely the doings of liberal Super Jews.)
Whatever tragedies Jews suffered in the Christian and Islamic worlds, I wonder if they could have risen to such power if not for the spread of those two religions. Suppose Europe and the Middle East had remained pagan. Pagan peoples would not have seen Jews as fellow People of the Book. Christians hated the part where Jews killed and rejected Jesus, but they still regarded Jews as the Chosen People through whose salvation Jesus would return to Earth. Muslims thought the Old Testament was corrupted, but Jews were still seen as the People of the Book. Indeed, Christians treated Jews much better than they treated pagans. Jews suffered pogroms and deportations now and then, but pagans were put to death as Satan-worshipers and witches. (Pagans, not Jews, were the main victims of Christianity, and the monotheistic intolerance at the core of Christianity–and Islam–was inherited from ruthless Judaism. In that sense, Jewish culture and ideas indirectly led to oppression and deaths of countless pagans who were wiped out spiritually and even physically as Neanderthals had been wiped out be Cro-Magnons. From this perspective, neo-pagan Nazism could be seen as an indigenous European vengeance against the whole history of Judeo-Christian oppression, which would include communism.)
Jews faced discrimination in the Muslim world, but they were treated hell of lot better than the ‘infidels’–pagans who were NOT ‘of the Book–who immediately had their heads chopped off.
It’s worth wondering if there would have been such peace and stability–relatively speaking–in the West and in the Near East if not for the unifying and stabilizing force of Christianity and Islam. Indeed, Jews essentially went where the Christians went and where the Muslims went. At the very least, they were all the ‘People of the Book’. Some Jews settled in India, China, and other places, but even if tolerated, they had far less in common with the natives since non-Christians and non-Muslims had no cultural linkage to Jews or Judaism. Jews bitch and whine about white imperialism and conquest of the Americas, but could Jews have succeed in North America if it were inhabited by indigenous Native American pagan tribes than by Western Christians?

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