Thursday, December 10, 2015

Catholicism ... WOW!

The new document, titled “The Gifts and Calling of God are Irrevocable,” discussed at length how Christianity is rooted in Judaism. Because of this, it said, the Church is “obliged to view evangelization to Jews, who believe in the one God, in a different manner from that to people of other religions and world views.” 
It added, “In concrete terms this means that the Catholic Church neither conducts nor supports any specific institutional mission work directed towards Jews.” 
Goals in Jewish-Catholic dialogue, according to the document, include “joint engagement throughout the world for justice, peace, conservation of creation, and reconciliation” in a way that would make the religious contribute toward world peace. “Religious freedom guaranteed by civil authority is the prerequisite for such dialogue and peace,” it said. 
“In Jewish-Christian dialogue the situation of Christian communities in the state of Israel is of great relevance, since there — as nowhere else in the world — a Christian minority faces a Jewish majority,” the document said. “Peace in the Holy Land — lacking and constantly prayed for — plays a major role in dialogue between Jews and Christians.” 
Among other goals, the document said, were “jointly combating all manifestations of racial discrimination against Jews and all forms of anti-Semitism, which have certainly not yet been eradicated and re-emerge in different ways in various contexts.” It particularly stressed the need for “unceasing vigilance and sensitivity in the social sphere” and called for tangible joint Jewish-Catholic cooperation, such as in charitable activity to help “the poor, disadvantaged and sick.”
 Sounding the right notes for me.


EW said...

“Sounding the right notes for me.” Really?

See, I’ve received this great insight. It has transformed my life, and it can transform yours, too. The insight is that I’m not perfect – and that I don’t have to be! I’m always falling short, always inadequate. Yet even in my inadequacy, God tells me that I’m loved. That my faults and inadequacies are born by shoulders stronger than my own; they’re borne by the Son of God!

This message is so powerful, it has become the central meaning of my life. I travel the world, sharing this message. I go to the farthest reaches of the poles, and into the darkest jungles, offering this hope to any who will accept it. It can comfort the greatest leaders. It can comfort the poorest, most bedraggled, most guilty sinner. And it’s yours, for free!

So before you jump off that bridge, I just wanted you to know this. I don’t know your circumstances, but I want you to know mine. ‘Cuz I’ve stood where you stand, on this very bridge. I was just a screw-up; a broken sprocket that kept jamming the machine for everybody. So I decided to end it all; the weight of my wrongs would carry me to the bottom of this river and to the depths of the earth. But at the last minute someone called out to me and told me I had won a great inheritance. And here’s the really great part: It’s an inheritance for everybody!

We’re all inadequate – and we’re all loved! I’m still a broken sprocket – but now I know that the whole machine runs on broken sprockets. It’s part of the plan!

And you’re part of the plan, too. You belong. You’re one of us! Jesus said so!

Wait – you’re a Jew?

Oh -- then this message isn't for you. I’m sorry to have wasted your time. Well, goodbye then. And -- have a nice trip…?

There’s some scholarship that Christianity, with its emphasis on universalism vs. tribalism, played a big role in the rise of liberalism and Enlightenment philosophies. But the Catholics’ new message – that Christians have the right answer for all mankind EXCEPT JEWS, who are in a fundamentally different category from the rest of us – seems to me as the antithesis of this traditional message.

And I find this distinction profoundly dangerous. OF COURSE CATHOLICS SHOULD TRY TO CONVERT JEWS to the same extent that they’d try to convert anyone else. The American tradition is that buyers discriminate among sellers; discrimination by sellers is considered elitist and/or creepy. Doubly so when the discrimination is on the basis of suspect categories – and categories don’t get much more suspect than this.

Anonymous said...

I agree except that sometimes you've been trying to sell a product to a particular demographic for thousands of years and despite having a lot of success in secondary markets your original audience refuses to purchase it. In fact, because you're so invested in that original audience it has fueled a psychological crisis among your salespeople. Maybe coming up with an explanation (or, they don't need it because they already had it) is a good salve.

EW said...

“[S]ometimes you've been trying to sell a product to a particular demographic for thousands of years and despite having a lot of success in secondary markets your original audience refuses to purchase it.”

1. Is that accurate? Certainly, the letters of the Apostle Paul suggest as much – that he set out to preach to the Jews, but found that they weren’t as receptive an audience as others in the Roman Empire.

But as an empirical matter, this is a tricky question – because each time a salesman makes a sale, by definition, the buyer drops out of the target demographic. So the mere existence of people who have declined to buy is not much of a measure of how many people have bought.

2. I sense the Catholic announcement really addresses the idea that some Catholic communities have programs specifically targeting Jews for conversion. I’m conflicted about this. As I say, I favor Catholics offering their message to Jews “to the same extent that they’d try to convert anyone else.” In one sense, programs just targeting Jews don’t look like offering a message “to the same extent….” But if Catholics have programs targeting a variety of demographics, each tailored to that demographic, should a program targeting Jews be off-limits? (I’m skeptical that “Jews” is a sufficiently refined demographic for marketing purposes, but given the product in question, perhaps so….)

3. Then again, I think of another sales pitch: Men hitting on women. Where I live, we have a modicum of social norms that limits the manner and frequency with which men are supposed to make their sales pitches. In the absence of these norms, young women may find themselves barraged. (Even in the presence of these social norms….) Violate these norms, and people will regard you as a boor.

So perhaps the new Catholic message could be understood as something along those lines. "Don’t be a jerk. Make eye contact, smile, but don't hit on someone until that person first expresses some interest.”