Thursday, April 10, 2008

Passover Seder on 19th

As a non-Jew and an atheist, I have never attended a pesach seder but I have great respect for Judaism (note the flag that I fly on all my blogs) so I thought that I would like to attend one. The local Lubavitchers do advertise a seder so I thought I might go to that one. Alas! They are of course very strict so, even though I explained that I knew something of the teachings of their Rebbe, their person in charge told me as politely as he could that it was for Jews only.

He got a bit incoherent when I pointed out that the Rebbe preached love but that did not sway him, of course. As the Lubavitchers are very fundamentalist, I think we might perhaps conclude that we see the basic difference between Jewish love and Christian love there. Jewish love is for Jews and Christian love is for all mankind. Exclusivity is a feature of many religions so I support their right to be exclusive but I don't think it is wise -- as I have pointed out at some length elsewhere

There are not many Jews in Brisbane so I think I have now missed any chance of attending a seder this year.


Although I have been an atheist for all of my adult life, I did of course grow up into a Christian milieu -- with its characteristic devotion to outreach and proselytization -- so the attitude of the Lubavitchers was rather shocking to me. Nonetheless I should not have been shocked. There were gnostic sects of Christianity in the distant past and there are some survivals of that into modern times (Masons, Exclusive Brethren etc.).

But anyway, I think I may renew my contact with my Christian roots this Sunday by going to a service at my old church -- Ann St Presbyterian. Just the smell of old French-polished wood will make me feel good as I walk in there -- and the handshakes at the door won't hurt a bit either.

Update 2

I have of course now received a number of messages from Jewish readers in which they kindly say that I would be welcome at their seder. Sadly, none of them are anywhere near to me geographically. I hope I did make clear initially above my recognition that the Lubavitchers do not speak for all Jews.


Another reason why McCain might win

America is NOT a libertarian country

Anxious conservatives this year are evincing a powerful nostalgia for Ronald Reagan, giving the former president credit for fathering the modern era of consistent Republican victories. Reagan, the myth goes, kept together the three "legs" of the GOP "stool": social conservatives, free marketeers, and national security hawks. As a result, Republicans held the White House for 20 of the last 28 years, broke the Democrats' stranglehold on the House of Representatives, cut income taxes, and won the Cold War.

But in 2008 the stool seems on the verge of breaking apart. Less than two years after holding the White House and both houses of Congress, the Republican Party is threatening to squander all three. Already down 33 seats in the House of Representatives, Republicans are losing 26 incumbents to retirement compared to the Democrats' five and as of early March were behind on congressional fund raising by a ratio of 5 to 1, according to The Wall Street Journal. Democrats are widely expected to extend their 51-49 advantage in the Senate....

In Comeback, one of several new whither-the-party books by traumatized Republicans, former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum points out that the very Bush policies that fiscal conservatives like him despise-the prescription drug entitlement, the No Child Left Behind Act, campaign finance reform-were overwhelmingly popular among the American people. "On issues from Social Security to healthcare to environmental protection, conservatives find themselves on the less popular side of the great issues of the day," Frum writes.

The solution? Surrender: "There are things only government can do, and if we conservatives wish to be entrusted with the management of the government, we must prove that we care about government enough to manage it well." Republicans should cave on new spending and regulations, says Frum, in exchange for tax cuts. "This is not 1964," he writes. "The ideal under threat today is not the nation's liberty, but the nation's security, its unity, its effectiveness, and.its equality and beauty."

As Sasha Issenberg wrote in a perceptive Boston Globe story last November, "With Republicans no longer preaching suspicion of Washington, a new consensus has emerged, as both parties have come in their ways to stand today for a more robust, aggressive federal government. As a result, Goldwaterism is without a natural home in the two-party system." ....

More here



Petraeus calls for halt to withdrawal: "The top US commander in Iraq, David Petraeus, told Congress late last night that the surge of American forces to the war-torn country had resulted in a "significant but uneven" improvement in security. General Petraeus's politically charged testimony came after presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain yesterday accused his two Democratic rivals of backing a reckless withdrawal from the Iraq war. "Since ambassador (Ryan) Crocker and I appeared before you seven months ago, there has been significant but uneven security progress in Iraq," General Petraeus said in opening testimony before the Senate armed services committee. He said the drawdown of the 30,000 surge troops would be completed in July and followed by a 45-day review period to determine future force numbers and strategy. As fierce clashes between Shia fighters and Iraqi and US forces in Baghdad's Sadr City district killed at least 12 people and wounded 36, General Petraeus said Iran had fuelled violence in Iraq and that Tehran's influence on militias remained the longest-term threat to the country. Senator McCain stressed his commitment to the war in his opening address as the committee's ranking Republican."

Hillary's nutty Rabbi: "Have you heard about the Democratic presidential candidate who has links to a radical clergyman? Did you know that the clergyman was arrested for conspiracy and criminal political violence in the early 1970s? Some of the things the clergyman wrote around that time were: – "The Jewish community is racist, internally corrupt . . ." – "The synagogue as currently established will have to be smashed."  – "Black anti-Semitism . . . is not an anti-Semitism rooted in . . . hatred of the Christ-killers but rather one rooted in the concrete fact of oppression by Jews of blacks . . ." What's that you say? You had not heard that Barack Obama's pastor, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, had been arrested for violent acts? You did not know he said these things? Wright was not the clergyman responsible for the above quotes and he was not arrested for conspiracy in the 1970s. And the candidate is not Obama. This article is about Hillary Clinton and her friendship with her "Politics of Meaning" guru Rabbi Michael Lerner; he wrote those things in a 1969 article in Judaism magazine."

UN "human rights" envoy blocked by Israel: "Israel has said it will refuse a visa for the new United Nations human rights envoy to the Palestinians after he said it was responsible for a "Holocaust in the making" in Gaza. Richard Falk, a Jewish-American law professor, is to assume the UN post of special rapporteur in June. But the Israeli government is furious as he compared it last year to Nazi Germany and has refused to retract his comments since his appointment. A spokesman for Israel's foreign ministry also accused his employers of bias. Israeli officials want the envoy to evaluate Palestinian human rights violations, including rockets fired on Israeli civilians, alongside any Israeli transgressions."

New leader for Holy Ireland: "A few pints may be sunk and a song sung tonight by Brian Cowen when he becomes leader of Fianna F il, and just a step away from replacing his boss Bertie Ahern as Taoiseach next month. Mr Cowen - known to admirers and detractors alike as "Biffo"* - has been Mr Ahern's anointed successor since Ireland's most successful party won last year's general election, for the third time in a row. It was Mr Cowen in whom Mr Ahern confided last week before springing his surprise resignation announcement, prompted by further questions about the Prime Minister's financial affairs. The seamless succession is unlikely to mean any big government reshuffles, with Cabinet ministers tripping over themselves last week to endorse Mr Cowen and name him as the only candidate in the race. The only question remaining is, who will step up to the role of Tanaiste, or deputy prime minister?"


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A lesson in Australian: When an Australian calls someone a "big-noter", he is saying that the person is a chronic and rather pathetic seeker of admiration -- as in someone who often pulls out "big notes" (e.g. $100.00 bills) to pay for things, thus endeavouring to create the impression that he is rich. The term describes the mentality rather than the actual behavior with money and it aptly describes many Leftists. When they purport to show "compassion" by advocating things that cost themselves nothing (e.g. advocating more taxes on "the rich" to help "the poor"), an Australian might say that the Leftist is "big-noting himself". There is a recent example of the usage here. The term conveys contempt. There is a wise description of Australians generally here

The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


1 comment:

ShrinkWrapped said...

Its too bad the only Jews you know in Brisbane are Lubavitchers; they are outliers among Jews. If you ever get to New York during Passover, you have a standing offer to join me and my family for our Seder. We have had many Christian friends join us over the years and the timeless story of deliverance from slavery is as pertinent today as it was thousands of years ago.
Please be careful not to generalize about Jews based on your experience with a very limited sub-set of my co-religionists.