Friday, January 05, 2007

Paging Dennis Prager

I actually don't mean to obsess over him, and there are plenty of other people who this could apply to (e.g., Daniel Lapin, Yehuda Levin). But nevertheless, Prager is probably the highest profile Jewish pseudo-Christian out there. And the one voted most likely to piss me the hell off.
To be authentic, Jewish theological discourse must be expressed in its own native categories, in its own distinct vocabulary, and out of its own agenda. As Samuel S. Cohen observed, "Attempts to cram Judaism into categories derived from other religions and theologies can lead only to grotesque results."

As part of a religious minority in a predominantly Islamic or Christian culture, inevitably influenced by Western philosophical tradition, both the medieval and modern Jewish thinker becomes inevitably tempted to assimilate Judiasm into alien and even inimical philosophies and theologies. Indeed, the Jewish thinker may remain oblivious to the 'cultureal conditioning' absorbed from his or her geographical environment, and may be led to articulate a theology of Judaism in a manner that does not cohere with authentic Jewish thought or with the inherent vocabulary of Jewish theological discourse. In this regard, Solomon Schechter made a distinction between assimilating and being assimilated. An organism is able to assimilate and should assimilate that which strengthens and enriches it. However, an organism is always endangered by being assimilated into that which is inimical to it, into that which distorts its very nature.

Byron Sherwin, "An Incessantly Gushing Fountain: The Nature of Jewish Theology," in Contemporary Jewish Theology: A Reader (Elliot N. Dorff & Louis E. Newman, eds., Oxford UP 1999).


Anonymous said...

What specifically bothers you about Prager's arguments? Can you give any examples?

David Schraub said...

That he's wrong? In nearly everything he writes?

He's wrong both historically, ethically, and constitutionally on the whole Keith Ellison thing. He's wrong in how he tries to define Judaism as a sect of Conservative Christianity. He's wrong in how he tries to apply an obscure Torah verse about not mixing different kinds of threads to transgenderism. He's a hack. He's not a serious thinker.

Anonymous said...

Where does Prager define Judaism as a sect of Christianity?