Monday, December 14, 2009

“Heresy” is a legitimate topic


Jewish date:  27 Kislew 5770 (Parashath MiqQeṣ).

Today’s holidays:  Day 3 of Ḥanukkah (Judaism), Saint Day of John of the Cross (Roman Catholicism).

Buddha statue, Kamakura, JapanImage of a statue of Buddha, who is not a valid Jewish symbol, via Wikipedia
Topic 1: “Survey finds complexity in U.S. religious beliefs”.  This topic has bothered me for a while, and it is stuff like this which is the reason the Divine Misconceptions project, including this blog, exists.  The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life survey discussed deals with a range of religious and “spiritual” beliefs, and the results are that a lot of Americans are syncretic, i.e., combining more than one religion, or they mix in “spiritual”/New Age/superstitious beliefs into their religion.  There is a term for a lot of this which has become unpopular lately but still fits:  heresy.  “Heresy” denotes anything which is definitely out of bounds and unacceptable to a religion.  E.g., if I may note something which was not noted in this article but which was mentioned in a news report on television on this survey, there are people who mix Judaism and Buddhism, and this is heresy.  Judaism is a strongly monotheistic religion, with a unique, transcendent, immortal creator deity.  Buddhism is at best weakly theistic, claiming that any gods which exist are not the Creator and are, like mortals, caught up in the cycle of reincarnation.  Jewish and Buddhist theologies are in blatant contradiction, and no amount of rationalization is going to harmonize them without doing violence to at least one of them.  It is therefore highly irrational and unacceptable to mix the two, period.  I know this may sound mean, but truth is uncompromising.  The sensible solution is thus to figure out which of the two, if either, is true and practice that; practicing something which is definitely false is not going to cut it.

Topic 2:  To end on a bit of humor relevant to Ḥanukkah, “The High-Tech Dreidel”.

Peace and happy Ḥanukkah.

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