Saturday, January 9, 2010

Some Other Reactions to My Comments About Kupat Ha’ir

My post about Rabbi Marc Angel and his criticism of Kupat Ha'ir drew a lot of reactions and sparked some good conversations. Thank you to Hirhurim and Luke Ford for putting up links to it. Not everyone was offended by my calling Haredim and Catholics idolaters. A good friend of, who is a self declared pagan, opened his arms to these new potential brothers in arms and sent me the following IM message:

You and I will be in different hells, I hope.  Mine will be full of Gods and impressively adorned priests, bishops, and bearded theologians arguing about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. I'm far too sympathetic with the Catholics and fundamentalists like the Haredim to agree with anything ever say.  But I very much enjoyed reading your discussions about those things.

On a less positive note, another person, a complete stranger, sent me the following message on Facebook: "You are a hypocrite. You are as strange as any one man can be. Yet you are judgmental of others. I wish you failure in your life. Shame on you Benzion Chimp."

There is the obvious irony here; how is it not judgmental to send messages to people you have never met, call them hypocrite other rude names and wish them failure in life all without trying to get some word of explanation?(Note that in our post modern world being judgmental has replaced being rude as the Original Sin.) I do take it as a complement to be called "as strange as any one man can be." At least he got one thing right about me. I would wish to be able to say the following to this person:

My name is Benzion N. Chinn and I run the blog Izgad. I have lived my life with the awareness that I was different from other people. In more recent years that difference has been given a name, Asperger syndrome. Because I was different I have long been very sympathetic to those people who are different whose lifestyles are outside the mainstream. This goes for blacks, homosexuals, prostitutes, drug users, polygamists and even gun touting Confederate flag waving white males. As long as you are not causing direct physical harm to other people then the government should leave you to pursue your own good in your own way. In terms of society, I believe in cultivating a space for people I may disagree with, but who have something to contribute to the greater social discourse. A large part of my professional work deals with medieval Christian and Islamic thought. I may be a nice Jewish boy, but my soul is still fed by Augustine, Aquinas, Averroes and Avicenna. My theology is more complex than simply saying there is the group of people who are like me and everyone else is walking in darkness on a path to eternal damnation. As someone who believes in creating a non-coercive social community around certain specific ideals, I have to be willing to put my foot down and say that those people who do not fulfill these ideals cannot be part of this social community. I have the right to say that you cannot be part of my club. God knows that I have been told many times by people that I was not welcome in their club. Also there are people that I believe are not just wrong, but insane, wicked or otherwise ignorant. These are people who hold beliefs that, by definition, make it impossible to have any sort of meaningful and rational discussion with. For example people who do not accept Occam's razor, the validity of the scientific and historical methods. I do not believe these people should in any way be harmed by the government, but I have no reason to take them seriously and allow them to take part in the discourse of the open society. If this makes me intolerant and judgmental then please provide me the guidance of real live reasonable and rational people, living functional lives while being less judgmental of other people than I am.


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