Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Religious politics

Let me link these, before I forget, as I think they're well worth reading:

~ Triumphalist Religiosity: The Unanticipated Problem of the 21st Century--Why the key to the great civilizational clash of our time is understanding faithful people of all religions who must dominate non-believers to uphold their own truth, by Richard Landes. 

"In Paris in 2015, jihadis began with attacks on blasphemers and Jews and ended with attacks on the nightlife scene. Some puzzled about why. Whence this hostility? It seems less incomprehensible when one realizes that triumphalists find any independent infidel, especially those who are enjoying their (immoral) freedom, intolerable."

. . .

In the world of victimization discourse so prevalent on campuses today, for example, triumphalist Muslims have learned that, when attacking the West, they can lead with their glass chin: How dare you offend us so? They can, thereby, maneuver a conflict-averse Western culture into conceding and placating them. The widespread consensus that one should not hurt the feelings of “marginalized and underrepresented minorities,” has been an enormous boon to triumphalist Muslims.
As a result, there’s a significant and troubling overlap between Western sensitivity to minority feelings, and Muslim triumphalist attitudes toward infidels. When our intellectuals distance themselves from Charlie Hebdo, insisting on the importance of not offending Muslims, or our publishers reject things Muslims will find provocative, they insist that this is a show respect and consideration. But while westerners think they’re being generous, triumphalist Muslims see them complying with their demands, behaving as proleptic dhimmi, who submit without even being conquered.
And when Westerners committed to these displays of “respect,” attack as “Islamophobes” fellow infidels who do criticize Muslims as “Islamophobes,” they are, from the perspective of the triumphalist Muslim, behaving like dhimmi leaders have always behaved: silence any dissent within the ranks before it goes public and brings retaliation to the whole community. . . .
By failing to ask for even minimal reciprocity, we have systematically diminished our own democratic public sphere, where we now see a wave of tragi-comic mobilizations of this culture of offense that have strange and (should be) unwelcome echoes of both brown shirts and Maoist “struggle sessions.” These represent the epitome of what a modern, free and tolerant society cannot abide, and they offer triumphalist Muslims an ideal opportunity to demand submission to their insistence that their sensibilities not be offended. Until we understand the magnitude of triumphalism’s deep atavistic wells of desire, the libido dominandi from which it draws its strength on the one hand, and the magnitude of the accomplishment that democratic polities have achieved in pruning it back on the other, we cannot begin to deal with the challenge we face.
And yet, by confronting it, we might begin to figure out what to do. Among other things, an appreciation of the power of raw, pre-modern triumphalism in Islam allows us to grasp how small the differences that separate the “right” from the “left” in Western democracies. . . .  Only when “left” and “right” leave off our narcissism of small differences, and start to act in coordination in the defense of our common values, can we begin to defend democracy and freedom. Only then can we begin to shape substantive citizens capable of tolerance, of granting others the dignity we wish to receive, but also capable, in return, of demanding basic reciprocity, which begins with the struggle against triumphalism. Only that way, can one imagine a relatively peaceful and tolerant 21st century.

~ Why the War of Words About Open Orthodoxy Won’t Matter, by Rabbi Eliyahu Fink. 
"The next generation of Modern Orthodox Jews are Millennials who grew up in a digital world where authority is routinely challenged. Fact-checking teachers was easy even when we had only Microsoft Encarta. Today, Google allows us to fact-check from our phones before the authority finishes their sentence. Now, authority must be based on sound reasoning and meaningful arguments, not fear or shame. Observance and religious practice are still of utmost importance, but the reasons for observance and practice are different. Appeal to authority with Millennials at your peril."

. . .

The assumption that Modern Orthodox Judaism will function as an artificially constructed division of people with a commonly held reverence for an authority is incorrect. Soon, no one will care what Rabbi Gordimer or Prof. Marc Shapiro said about the kashrus of Open Orthodoxy. What will matter is the way religious experiences are constructed. Groups will be determined by common values and goals, not reverence for common authority. Arguments over who is right or wrong about this text or that halachic nuance will have no bearing on who we allow into our social group. Our groups won’t preselect members based on compliance with a specific authority. Individual practice will not be the determinative factor in group formation. That’s why I don’t think the war is relevant. Modern Orthodox Millennials are not invested in the question of whose authority will reign supreme; it doesn’t matter to us."


Blogger Richardf8 said...

anks for the Landes article. Very useful framework.

Wed Feb 17, 08:34:00 PM 2016  

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