Fools Parade

Once Again Foolishly Rushing In

“The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.”

-M. Scott Peck

I post quotes in the sidebar of my blog to honor this “mission” to offer “morning meditations,” and so I added Peck’s to the list. But then I’m wondering if Peck lived a religious life ( I guess I should do a little research before asking such dippy questions)?

Judah Gabriel Himango to Toby Janicki:

With all due respect, you are not the Apostle Paul. You’re choosing to amplify “these other people needing correction” *over* the positive report from the Jewish world. That is disappointing.

You suggested we end the discussion. OK, I will not reply any further.

I am going to reproduce this discussion over on my blog, because it is noteworthy and important to understand the direction FFOZ has taken.


Judah Gabriel Himango to James:

James, you claim Hebrew Roots people are “attempting to appear indistinguishable from Chabadniks.”

The very first photo in the article shows the people at the conference. Please tell us which ones are indistinguishable from Chabad practitioners.

James to Judah Gabriel Himango:

I’m basing that on the quote from the article, Judah.

Kaiser said: “Many of the thousand-plus people who attended Revive 2013, a religious conference held at the Dallas Sheraton last June, wear tzitzit. Many keep kosher and observe the Sabbath and Jewish holidays. Some of the men have beards and peyos.”

-from comments made on the blog post
“God-Fearers: The Balance of Torah”
by Toby Janicki

What part of “peyos” don’t you understand? Anyway…

I didn’t transcribe the full conversation because it would have consumed too much space. Please visit Toby’s blog to read the article that inspired this set of transactions and the complete dialog that followed.

One thing I said when I first commented was:

I keep asking myself if I want to touch this conversation with a ten-foot pole, especially since it’s going to be enshrined in infamy on Judah’s blog, but here I am with my fingers tapping on the keyboard.

At the keyboardI was right. I am living to regret being the “monkey at the keyboard” and entering yet one more “spitting contest” between different factions of the Messianic Jewish and Hebrew Roots world. Actually, only one individual created a level of “discomfort” but that’s all it takes.

This is actually a reflection of a larger dynamic, a much larger dynamic, that has been going on for years and years. It waxes and wanes and I thought it was waning and that we’d finally get past all this “jockeying for position” and actually focus on something worthwhile like, oh…I don’t know…serving God, but then stuff like this happens, to which I respond and then based on a follow-up comment, respond again.

Finally, I read a Chabad commentary (one of my favorite sources, I must admit) and since it reminds me of the latest incarnation of our little debate, I write one more thing. I must be self-destructive or more likely, just a compulsive writer (are they the same thing?).

I should have removed my fingers from the keyboard and kept them off when I read Toby’s latest blog, especially when I saw that Judah was already involved but I didn’t listen to the voices of wisdom in my head.

As Alexander Pope famously wrote, fools rush in where angels fear to tread. Guess what that makes me?

This is just my latest rant on how I periodically lose my faith in religious people but now I’m starting to ask, is involvement in religion worth it?

Note, I didn’t ask if my faith was worth it, but faith can be lived out in an entirely positive environment and doesn’t really require that anyone knows I even exist. I can give to charity, donate to my local food bank, and perform many other acts of kindness and compassion without having to argue about whether Gentile believers should wear tzitzit and payos or not. Really, why should I care?

“Speak (keyboard) in haste, repent at leisure,” to bend the Hasidic proverb all out of shape.

Of course, it’s not just the Messianic vs. Hebrew Roots “duke fest” that’s contributing fuel to today’s “extra meditation.” Part 1 and Part 2 (Part 3 publishes next Sunday morning) of my John MacArthur vs. Judaism reviews figure prominently in my disillusionment of religion and religious people.

Incidentally, I did consider, just for the sake of “balance,” sampling some sermons by R.C. Sproul but when I saw the one titled “Israel Rejects the Gospel,” I lost heart.

I’ll probably get over this after a good night’s sleep, but the overwhelming and competing demands of different religious groups and different religious individuals cannot be easily managed if at all. Muslims get violent if anyone draws a cartoon of the Prophet, and some Messianic Jews are rankled if a Hebrew Roots Gentile wears tzitzit on his belt loops or claims to be of the (two) House of Israel.

I get bent out of shape when John MacArthur says that God killed Judaism in Acts 2 on the first birthday of the Church.

God isn’t so chaotic so why are we?

Is religion worth it?

Up until recently, I’ve taken the Hebrews 10:25 directive to not neglect meeting with one another as a sort of commandment by God to regularly congregate with like-minded believers. But in my case, “like-minded” is hard to come by, which is also part of the problem I’m facing. If I had never encountered Hebrews Roots and later Messianic Judaism, I might be blissfully cruising along in some church oblivious to any of these debates and fully convinced (like many Christians) that my particular paradigm was always right about everything and all discussions were settled by God and the Bible, at least as my church interpreted them.

keyboardTomorrow morning, my latest review on D. Thomas Lancaster’s Holy Epistle to the Hebrews sermon series will published. The day after that, a commentary comparing the Jewish perspective on Oral Tradition to Christianity’s hidden but no less powerful Protestant tradition on Biblical interpretation will appear. Following that, my final review of MacArthur on Judaism will become available on Sunday and then my Pastor’s interpretation of the same portion of scripture will be published on Monday.

Is it all worth it? I mean, does it matter? Does God care? I know I can irritate or even anger people if I use the right “hot button” words and phrases (see the comments between Judah and me above).

Rabbis write for Jews, Preachers sermonize to their parishioners. Usually religious writers and speakers write and speak to already defined and self-contained audiences who are predisposed to accept their messages for the most part, or at least audiences that will not respond significantly if they disagree.

But then we have this little corner of the blogosphere, which is just part of the larger religious blogosphere and when populations collide, feathers fly.

Ben Zoma says: Who is wise? The one who learns from every person…Who is brave? The one who subdues his negative inclination…Who is rich? The one who is appreciates what he has…Who is honored? The one who gives honor to others…

Pirkei Avot 4:1

Like a dog that returns to its vomit is a fool who repeats his folly.

Proverbs 26:11 (NASB)

No, I’m hardly calling myself wise and yes, I’m definitely the fool at the keyboard.

“The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.”

Really Dr. Peck? I can think of only one place that my discomfort could propel me to step out of my “ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.”

End Rant.

Addendum: Since my wife’s car is in the shop, she has mine, so she and my grandson picked me up from work this afternoon. He and I spent the evening playing with his toys, eating pizza, reading books, and watching Jonny Quest. Since he has pre-school tomorrow, we had to take him home rather early, but after all that, I decided I didn’t want to have to manage a “controversy magnet” of comments (I saw what happened on Toby’s FFOZ blog) for the rest of the evening and into tomorrow, so I’m summarily closing comments. For those of you who had something to say, I apologize that those comments won’t see the light of day, but we’ve had this conversation before. Time to wind down the evening and hope for a more pleasant tomorrow, God be willing.