Monday, January 23, 2012

Newt Is Onto Something



Newt Gingrich speaking on 3/27/2011 

"I have two grandchildren — Maggie is 11, Robert is 9," Gingrich said at Cornerstone Church here. "I am convinced that if we do not decisively win the struggle over the nature of America, by the time they're my age they will be in a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists and with no understanding of what it once meant to be an American."

Gingrich said he hadn't intended to fight another political battle, and was looking forward to relaxing in private life after leaving public office. But in 2002, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the phrase "under God" in the pledge of allegiance was unconstitutional (the ruling was later overturned).

"I had been watching the courts grow steadily more secular and steadily more anti-religious starting with the 1963 school prayer decision," he said. "But for some reason this particular decision struck me as so blindingly stupid, so profoundly un-American."

"Bravery will come from our churches, our synagogues, everyday folks," Gingrich said. "It won't come from the elites. It won't [come from] those currently in power because if it could have come from them, it would have."

I'm starting to like this guy a little. I would add that bravery may come from a few bloggers too.

[Disclaimer: I do not know if Gingrich is God fearing. In fact he is probably not. However he is claiming to enthusiastically support God fearers, and that wins him a point with me.]

As a pessimist, I believe that the larger cultural battle has been lost many years ago. The United States in a decade will probably look very much like Ukraine does today, with it's poverty, alcoholism, crime and corruption. (Zbigniew Brzezinski published a new book this week in which he compares the US today to the USSR in 1988.) Nevertheless, within our own orthodox communities we will survive. We must emphasize a maximum of Torah study. We must emphasize kindness - and that begins at home, making peace with our spouses and children. We must use software to filter and monitor Internet usage in our homes. We must shun and expel drop outs from our communities.

37 comments:

Jeff said...

What do you have against Ukraine?

jewish philosopher said...

If you don't mind the idea of living in a place where tap water is undrinkable, the lights and phone often don't work, you have to grow a good part of your own food if you want to eat, modern health care does not exist, most people are alcoholics, burglary and robbery are common, law enforcement officers openly accept bribes so then Ukraine is great.

We are probably headed there more quickly anyone wants to admit.

Welcome to Third World America.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/arianna-huffington/third-world-america-why-i_b_706673.html

Anonymous said...

Have you ever been to the Ukraine? I have and I can tell you the description you give is wholly false. Is there crime? Of course. Are there kickbacks? Of course. The same can be said of all nations and for that matter people.

jewish philosopher said...

Where were you and when? My wife is Russian and I happen to be in touch with many people in the FSU.

This is from the US State Department.

http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1053.html#crime

http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1053.html#victim

http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1053.html#medical

This is from the CIA

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/up.html

JRKmommy said...

Newt's the wrong messenger for the religious cause.

I actually agree with your line, "We must emphasize kindness - and that begins at home making peace with our spouses and children."

Newt decided to divorce wife #1 when she had cancer, in order to marry wife#2. She, in turn, was dumped when he decided that he wanted to marry wife #3.

jewish philosopher said...

I don't care much one way or the other about the president's personality. I assume that anyone who wants that job is, barring a miracle, a power hungry, egotistical nut. But I would prefer a power hungry, egotistical nut who likes synagogues.

Anonymous said...

"But I would prefer a power hungry, egotistical nut who likes synagogues"

As long as they wave a US flag and say god bless america and thank the troops, they're OK by me. 'Cause that's what matters.

Ironmistress said...

I wish you welcome to live in Scandinavia.

With the proviso that you can stand the five months of darkness, cold, snow, weather and intolerable climate.

Jeff said...

The wonderful thing about democracy and free speech is that it allows even people like you to express their opinions.

The terrible thing about democracy and free speech is that it allows even people like you to express their opinions.

Ironmistress said...

Theocracies tend to be nasty places to live. If you do not believe, look at Saudi Arabia or Iran.

I am not convinced Newt Gingrich would make a good President. He is an extremely hypocrite man, and uses the family values only as means to drive his ends, not as ends themselves.

If you really want to get certain of the intentions of a man, watch what his hands are doing and do not listen what his mouth speaks.

jewish philosopher said...

"The terrible thing about democracy and free speech is that it allows even people like you to express their opinions."

Jews have always been a despised minority. This is the oldest hatred.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antisemitism

But where would the world be without the Jews?

http://www.amazon.com/Gifts-Jews-Changed-Everyone-History/dp/0385482493/

http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/1898twain-jews.asp

jewish philosopher said...

Jeff, one thing I've always been curious about is how you understand our dialogue. 

As an atheist, you of course do not believe in a soul or free will. You believe that we are zombies and that you are an atheist because the random interaction of particles which created you programmed you to be an atheist. I am a Jew for the same reason. So we have here two zombies, created by no one, one whose brain chemistry makes him an atheist, one whose brain chemistry makes him a Jew, communicating through some bits of plastic and wire.

In light of this, how does this conversation have any meaning or importance whatsoever?

"Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing."

http://shakespeare.mit.edu/macbeth/macbeth.5.5.html

As a believing Jew, I know that we both have free will and God given souls and what we choose to believe is immensely important in the eyes of God.   

Jeff said...

"In light of this, how does this conversation have any meaning or importance whatsoever?"

In a cosmic sense, it has no importance whatsoever. However, it interests me to discuss these things. What motivates anybody to do anything? That is psychology, not religion. I have no illusions that I will change yours or any other reader's opinion about the subjects discussed here. Any even if it did, it wouldn't really matter in the scheme of things.

If I did actually have the power to convert all orthodox Jews into apostates, I would do so, since I think that Jews would be better off. But, as I said, I know that this is impossible.

I also don't share your dichotomy of "its either god or zombies". There are many plausible and attractive alternative philosophies out there.

So our motivations are different.

Anonymous said...

"As a believing Jew, I know that we both have free will and God given souls and what we choose to believe is immensely important in the eyes of God."

Right. What you know follows from what you believe. You know you have free will because you believe God gave it to you.

But there's no reason--other than personal desire and fear--to believe that God exists. And there's nothing we think about God that isn't personal.

If your belief in God ever gets exhausted, you will know things more like they really are.

ksil said...

straw man

as usual

jewish philosopher said...

"In a cosmic sense, it has no importance whatsoever."

How does it make any sense? We are all destined to believe whatever we believe based on the laws of nature.

"There are many plausible and attractive alternative philosophies out there."

Not really.

"But there's no reason--other than personal desire and fear--to believe that God exists."

The evidence is irrefutable.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2006/12/truth-of-judaism.html

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2010/03/jewish-literature-seeing-effects-of.html

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2009/06/gods-wisdom.html

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2010/05/torahs-amazing-honesty.html

Jeff said...

"How does it make any sense?"

I'm not understanding your question. All I said was that the conversation had no importance. How does WHAT make any sense?

"Not really."

Maybe not to you.

ksil said...

"The evidence is irrefutable."

it is.

too bad you are blind to it, for some reason

jewish philosopher said...

How does it make sense for one zombie to bother discussing religion with another zombie? Each believes whatever he is destined by natural laws to believe.

Jeff said...

Why do two animals interact with each other? Why do they play, or fight?

First, many of them are social beings, as we are. So we want and like interaction. They dont need god to have emotional connections, and neither do we. Second, sometimes people change their minds due to these social influences. Not necessarily because of a blog discussion, but with a wider cultural dialogue, people can be influenced.

I am puzzled that you would ask this question. Innate empathy and theory of mind should provide you with the answer.

jewish philosopher said...

"Why do two animals interact with each other?"

I don't think they are intelligent enough to contemplate that. They also have no religion.

Morah Betsy M said...

Would you want your children saying whatever prayer Newt and his ilk decide should be said in public schools? I thought republicans were against big government watching over things like the prayers of third graders.

Jeff said...

Why do they have to contemplate?

You had a dog, right? Was he a "zombie"? He was a conscious being, who was probably very loyal and loving. He liked company. Maybe he liked other dogs, too and would play with them. He needed no religion or soul or god for that.

On the other hand, some dogs are nasty and violent.

Same with people.

If you are empathetic person you know what I am talking about.

Jeff said...

Allow me a personal digression for a moment.

My two parents, to whom I am very close, are in their 80s and not in great health. I know, with certainty, that in the not too distant future, there will be crisis, illness, death and grief. It is inevitable. Sometimes that thought hangs over me like a cloud, but most of the time I try not to think about it, and enjoy having them in the present.

People cope with such existential issues in different ways. One dysfunctional way is to think about it all the time and become anxious or depressed. Another is to be like the animals--not think about it all and deal with things when they happen. Another, religious approach is to pray, and to think about that my parents will go to heaven and I will meet them there some day. {of course we might be sent to different places but that's another story..]. I admit that there is a certain comfort, and perhaps an advantage, to this approach.

JP, I think all of us have healthy defense mechanisms. Each of us uses different ones. If we didn't, we would collapse into a neurotic, depressed and inert lump. Some use healthy denial ("it wont happen to me"). Some rationalize or use extreme caution. Some intellectualize. Some use meditation or religion. Having these mechanisms is good and essential for our emotional health.

I know this because I have a daughter with a tendency towards depression. She is deeply religious, but despite that, her defenses are wafer thin. A negative bit of news from a friend can trigger a slide.

I wish you healthy defenses, and that you should have the insight to recognize them.

Alex said...

"We must shun and expel drop outs from our communities. "

Let's say you can find a well-known rabbi who has given similar advice (I bet you can't name one.) Does he, at the same time, call for reaching out to these people and bringing them back with "cords of love"?

jewish philosopher said...

"Would you want your children saying whatever prayer Newt and his ilk decide should be said in public schools?"

I wouldn't send my kids to public schools.

"You had a dog, right? Was he a "zombie"? "

I don't think dogs have free will. This is why dogs are not subject to criminal prosecution. They are not responsible actors.

"Does he, at the same time, call for reaching out to these people and bringing them back with "cords of love"?"

I know that Baal teshuvah yeshivas are not generally open to accepting people who were orthodox previously. I don't know personally of any organization working with apostates to atheism.

Jeff said...

"I don't think dogs have free will. This is why dogs are not subject to criminal prosecution. They are not responsible actors."

I'm not arguing with that. I'm addressing your original question: why have the conversation? and I am answering: because we are social beings, like some animals. Interaction is what we do.

jewish philosopher said...

But you, I think unlike a dog, are capable of self reflection and of asking yourself whether something makes any sense based on your atheistic beliefs that human behavior is deterministic and not voluntary.

jewish philosopher said...

As I prove here, atheists are really insincere

http://www.torahphilosophy.com/2011/07/two-proofs-that-atheists-are-lying.html

Atheism is just a label for guilt free hedonism.

Anonymous said...

I really appreciate what you post. You have a new subscriber now.

Jeff said...

All right, you caught me, I confess.
I don't really believe in evolution
Atheism makes no sense to me
You figured me out, thanks for saving me the bills for a shrink.
I just want to drink and jack off all day so I pretend to believe in those things.
Its me, Dawkins and Hitchens (RIP)
drinking ourselves into oblivion...

So simple! Good luck.

jewish philosopher said...

Jeff, don't give up. You may repent, just like any sinner, and receive complete atonement. However, this process may be so stressful and painful, if done sincerely, that it will result in your death, as we see from the case of R. Eleazar b. Dordia (‘Abodah Zarah 17a).

http://www.israelect.com/Come-and-Hear/zarah/zarah_17.html

If you do truly repent and realize you are dying from that stress, kindly leave my email address with your family so that they may notify me of your funeral. I would be happy to eulogize you.

Alex said...

JP, you wrote, "I know that Baal teshuvah yeshivas are not generally open to accepting people who were orthodox previously. I don't know personally of any organization working with apostates to atheism."

Do you realize that your response doesn't come remotely close to answering my question? Was my question that uncomfortable to you that you dodged it like that? Come on, make an honest attempt this time.
Here it is again:
"Let's say you can find a well-known rabbi who has given similar advice (about shunning and expelling) (I bet you can't name one.) Does he, at the same time, call for reaching out to these people and bringing them back with "cords of love"?"

jewish philosopher said...

One thing that must be borne in mind is that this blog is being written by me and only by me. I do try to cite authoritative sources for everything and readers can check my references and verify my comments. When let's say Barak Obama says something, have you ever heard a journalist ask him "Well, do other Democrats agree with you? Tell us who." He is speaking for himself.

If you wish to discuss issues on this blog with great Talmudic scholars, please be my guest.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moetzes_Gedolei_HaTorah#Current_members_belonging_to_Agudath_Israel

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edah_HaChareidis#Present_members 

Alex said...

You're bluffing.
Not a single member of the Moetzes or the Edah agrees with your claim that dropouts should be shunned and expelled.
You're all by yourself.

jewish philosopher said...

Your right. Great Talmudic scholars will of course disregard the Talmud.

http://www.torahphilosophy.com/2009/06/jewish-heretics.html

Obviously.

Buk Lau said...

Good, but Ron Paul is the best.