Interfaith

Mar. 13th, 2017 09:30 pm
liv: In English: My fandom is text obsessed / In Hebrew: These are the words (words)
I think of myself very much as someone who does interfaith, but I haven't really had any opportunities for it for ages. And then two came along at once:

yay connections )

So basically I'm full of enthusiasm and really energized by getting a chance to do interfaith again. And I've been babbling at my partners about stuff that they're not very familiar with, so hopefully this post is a bit more coherent.
liv: In English: My fandom is text obsessed / In Hebrew: These are the words (words)
So my extremely brilliant friend Jen has written a fantastic popular article about her research: Why it's absurd for a pastor to give Donald Trump a Jewish prayer shawl. You should read it, it's only tangentially about Trump, it's about the history of Jewish ritual objects and about Jewish-Christian relations.

Also, I have thinky thoughts )
liv: In English: My fandom is text obsessed / In Hebrew: These are the words (words)
To continue my write-ups after a bit of a gap:

potentially controversial )
So yes, that was partly informative but I felt like the XKCD citation needed guy quite a lot of the time. I'm not particularly interested in debating the ethics and legality of infant circumcision in the comments; I know a lot of people have strong views on the topic but I don't really care to rehash that debate. As it is I've made this way longer than I intended so I shall just post it and add the last couple of talks to another post.
liv: cartoon of me with long plait, teapot and purple outfit (mini-me)
Last week the Islamic society on campus tried to run an Islamic Awareness Week. I say tried to, in that they had some very good events, but they didn't really manage to put any publicity for them in any visible place, so the "awareness" part was rather lacking. Anyway, the keystone of the week was an interfaith panel debate on Should modern law be guided by religious principles?. Some of the regulars from the women's three faiths group I run on campus asked me to speak as the Jewish panellist. I felt somewhat dubious about the event, but I knew that the students who invited me at least were coming from a place of good faith, so I agreed to do it. I made it very clear that I wasn't going to treat it as an adversarial or competitive debate, I wasn't going to try to prove that Judaism is better than Christianity, Islam or humanism, I was only willing to participate on the basis of giving some Jewish perspectives on the topic.

that was an experience )
liv: In English: My fandom is text obsessed / In Hebrew: These are the words (words)
Author: Karen Armstrong

Details: (c) Karen Armstrong 1991; Pub Orion Phoenix 2001; ISBN 978-1-84212-608-0

Verdict: Muhammad is interesting and readable but not quite what I was hoping for.

Reasons for reading it: I am a huge fan of Karen Armstrong, and I am definitely interested in good introductory resources on Islam.

How it came into my hands: I happened to mention to [personal profile] ewt that I really wanted to read Armstrong's bio of Muhammad, and then she discovered an exciting independent bookshop in town that I hadn't known about, and decided to buy it for me. That wasn't quite the way it was supposed to go; mentioning I want a book is definitely not hinting for presents! (This is also why I don't have any online wishlists.) But still, I am very delighted, both by the bookshop discovery and by having a copy of the book I'd been wanting.

detailed review )
liv: A woman with a long plait drinks a cup of tea (teapot)
I attended a talk by the philosopher Miranda Fricker, mainly because Screwy wanted to hear her but couldn't make it to Stoke. testimonial injustice )

So that was quite a lot of doin it rong when it came to inclusiveness and anti-racism for the week, but I am heartened that people are trying and glad to be part of it, even if they're clueless.
liv: In English: My fandom is text obsessed / In Hebrew: These are the words (words)
I went to a talk by Ed Kessler on the Isaac story in Jewish–Christian relations. He tried to cram way too much into a short talk, covering a close reading of the text, Jewish and early Christian commentaries, the Isaac story in art (which I missed because I had to be home for lunch), the general history of Jewish–Christian relations, and his basic thesis that Jewish commentators have been aware of the Christian intellectual context to a much greater extent than is usually acknowledged. And he was trying to run a discussion on all these, not just talking about them. But anyway, some interesting tidbits:

the binding of Isaac )

Quite a lot of discussion about how you can draw conclusions from a largely oral tradition and one which was subject to a lot of censorship. The Jewish tradition never directly and explicitly quotes Christian writings, which means that apparent similarities could just be a coincidence, or maybe drawing on a common but unrecorded earlier tradition. Or maybe all the traffic was one way, the Christians were quoting (post-Biblical) Jewish sources but not vice versa. This seems intuitively unlikely to me (I mean, one-way intellectual influences require a highly artificial situation. And why on earth would the Jews have come up with the idea of carrying the wood being like carrying a cross?!), but it can't be formally ruled out on the basis of the very skimpy evidence.

And then of course the consequences for modern Jewish–Christian relations. Kessler pointed out that the Jewish context of the NT is now accepted by most Christian scholars, leading to an effort on the part of Christians to understand Judaism. But what about the other way round? If his examples are to be interpreted in the way he's suggesting, Christian thought was an important influence on Judaism throughout the main period of rabbinic Judaism (first century through eighth century). Should Jewish scholars therefore be paying more attention to Christianity? And what is a good way to engage with Christian influences without letting go of our own, uniquely Jewish, understanding of Torah (and also without imposing our own framework unfairly on Christian thought, as Christianity historically tended to do with Jewish scriptures)?

1] See [livejournal.com profile] pw201's comment which expands the New Testament context for this connection.

Hengrave

Sep. 18th, 2005 06:30 pm
liv: In English: My fandom is text obsessed / In Hebrew: These are the words (words)
The first time I went to Hengrave Hall I was about ten. I went there with my family for a gathering of members of Progressive synagogues in the region. It was snowing, and the central heating in the hall chose that December weekend to break down. I don't remember being cold, I remember playing games I was probably too old for in a room redecorated for a visit of her Majesty with the royal arms of Queen Elizabeth I, and in the snow-covered grounds, more park and woodlands than garden. I remember noisy, friendly meals in the oak-pannelled dining room, and having the best fun at an amateur cabaret in the banqueting hall, and sitting in the corner room reading children's books published before my parents were born. Or maybe I don't remember all these things from that year; I've been attending Hengrave at least once a year since then, mostly the same Progressive synagogues conference but a few times a Jewish - Christian dialogue event in the summer as well.

Hengrave changed my life. Almost everything I like about myself has some connection with my time at Hengrave. Let me try to explain what this place is and what it has meant to me. rambly, but please read anyway )

Earlier this year, and very suddenly, the Hengrave community announced that they were in financial difficulties and would have to close the centre. I was and am absolutely devastated by this news. Yesterday I attended with my Dad a thanksgiving service at Hengrave, held to mark the end of this wonderful community. (I can't bring myself to talk about Hengrave in the past tense, so my apologies to any grammatical pedants who may object to the earlier part of the post.)

The service was structured as a celebration of all that is wonderful about Hengrave, but it was done sensitively and accepted the sadness of the congregation. And it was based around a harvest / thanksgiving festival, with people bringing offerings of produce and stuff. They brought the Hengrave cross out into the garden in front of the house, and gathered together the community past and present as well as people like me who wanted to join them in saying farewell. They had baked bread which they shared round, after asking R Goldstein (who used to run the Jews and Christians group) to make hamotzi (the Jewish blessing for bread) over it. It was a lovely service, but I was really having a hard time not weeping throughout.

They had as many people as practically possible to speak about their memories of Hengrave; it has touched so many people so profoundly, I know. The music was almost entirely modern hymns which I don't really know or like ([livejournal.com profile] blackherring would likely disapprove), but still, Hengrave has always favoured participation over aestheticizing religion, so it was in keeping. Sr Asterie played her big African drum, much more audible out of doors than the guitar, flute and electric organ that provided the rest of the accompaniment. It would be impossible to have a service of remembrance for Hengrave without mentioning Sr Julian, who led the community until her death a few years ago and who very much made Hengrave what it is. I can't go to Hengrave and mourn for Sr Julian, who died in her 90s surrounded by her community and people who loved her, without remembering J, who didn't.

After the service there was a tea, the community even now keeping up their tradition of trying to serve others in small practical ways as well as following their grand religious ideals. There was some of the usual Hengrave spirit of realizing how wonderful people are, the happiness of meeting old friends who have shared Hengrave experiences. Sr Aquinas, who has retired from Hengrave itself now but who was among the people who inspired me in the early days. Sr Angeles, who is like everybody's adored and indulgent grandmother, was sweet to me as she always has been. And there was someone who remembered me as a precocious 14-year-old from the Jewish - Christian events more than a decade ago.

And all of that, and more that goes beyond what I can describe, is over now. I started out asking the community where they were going to go, but was horrified to find they don't know. Some of them have been part of Hengrave for five decades, and some of them have nobody in the world but the community. I'm sure they will find homes eventually but it's an unimaginable grief for them to lose all this. I know, nothing lasts forever and all that, but I find it really hard to accept that this community quietly living their lives in rural Suffolk and doing genuine good, have to be broken up because they've run out of money.
O God
Give us a well of tears
To cleanse the wounds of our world
Blessed is the Judge of truth.
liv: In English: My fandom is text obsessed / In Hebrew: These are the words (words)
With the thesis eating my life for more months than I want to count, I've been completely out of the interfaith scene. These last few weeks I've been taking it up again, mostly in a reconnecting with my old friends sort of way, as there's not a lot of point in getting deeply involved in planning when I'm only here for a couple of weeks.

I started with a committee meeting of the Dundee Inter Faith crowd, and I don't normally get excited about committee meetings, but this one was really lovely; they made a big fuss over me, and gave me a card, and there was a lot of just catching up with eachother's lives; some of the regular members have become friends (they are between 30 and 50 years older than me, mind).

This reminded me of a long planned Rotary interfaith event. Said event involved more children being consciously cute than is normally to my taste, but it was a well-attended and successful event. And lots more of the interfaith crowd were really happy to see me; I was basically mobbed from the moment I walked in, and as soon as the formal part of the proceedings ended. It made a really lovely way to say goodbye to people.

One of the people there was Maureen, who runs the Scottish Inter Faith Council. She invited me to join her youth interfaith crew for a retreat this weekend. I was a bit unsure of this, as I haven't really been part of that group for over a year, but Maureen assured me they'd be delighted to have me. She didn't underestimate her group; they were incredibly welcoming and seemed genuninely pleased that I was able to join them.

my weekend )

This has been a weekend full of joy.

Today is the 49th and final day of the Omer, making seven complete weeks.

Appeal

Jan. 19th, 2005 05:04 pm
liv: In English: My fandom is text obsessed / In Hebrew: These are the words (words)
So [livejournal.com profile] blackherring wants some assistance from people knowledgeable about Christianity and Christian scholarship. And since there are more such people on my flist than hers, I thought I'd point some of you towards her request.
liv: In English: My fandom is text obsessed / In Hebrew: These are the words (words)
Today was my lecturing debut. I taught a class to an audience who had paid money to learn from me, and I'm going to get paid for it like a proper grown-up lecturer.

report )

I'm really very pleased with how this lecture went, actually. I think people enjoyed themselves, and learnt something, and I came across reasonably well. Wow.
liv: A woman with a long plait drinks a cup of tea (teapot)
I've got involved in some Scottish scheme for getting more young people involved in interfaith (I'd link to them only I'm told their webpage is an embarrassment). As part of this, the coordinator, (who is an amazing person, full of enthusiasm and brilliant ideas), decided to take a 'roadshow' to a remote Scottish island to talk to the people there about why interfaith is cool.

I know I've already told some of you about this already, and I've promised at least one person that I will tell them all about it, but so far we've not had a chance to speak to eachother. But I want to record it in my livejournal for my own future reference, if nothing else.

the Tiree interfaith saga )

As a bonding exercise for the future Young Interfaith committee, it was highly successful. Whether we achieved much for the world I don't know, but I certainly had fun and I'm very glad I had the opportunity to go on this little trip.

Soundbite

Miscellaneous. Eclectic. Random. Perhaps markedly literate, or at least suffering from the compulsion to read any text that presents itself, including cereal boxes.

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