Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Ethnic Identity and the Need for Distinctive Cultural Behavior

"But, as Barth emphasized, 'ethnic groups only persist if they imply marked differences in behavior i.e. persisting cultural differences,'" pg. 53 of Jewish Identity by Herman.

Do you agree or disagree with the above statement?  Why or why not?

40 comments:

  1. I think it's mostly true and even commonsensical. A group, any particular group, will only persist as that group if they are somehow markedly different from other groups around them. This applies not just to ethnic groups, but also to political parties, religious denominations, and even Irish dancing troupes:)

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  2. Ethnic identity from the standpoint of gentiles, means nothing, because we are all still gentiles, no matter our ethnicity.

    It only gets tricky when we start talking Jews. However, other groups keeping or participating in other peoples cultural markers, does not blur distinctions, me participating in a Mexican festival or eating at a Mexican restaurant does not blur or confuse people into thinking I am a Mexican, not that it would really matter anyways.

    I do believe in upholding Jewish identity, I just do not believe it should have the distinction many within Messianic Judaism are wanting, which is divisive, usually elevated above identity found in the Messiah, which is devaluing the Messiah and the body of Messiah.

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    1. "usually elevated above identity found in the Messiah"

      Zion, that's your perspective. Most "independent messianics" couldn't care less if Jews assimilated among them and disappeared, as any Jews who have entered Gentile majorities invariable did.

      Note: Others likewise accuse OL groups of elevating Torah (as evidence by the fact that they even have the LAW in their self-designation and focus on Torah equality above all else) above Messiah.

      What solution do you propose for "upholding Jewish identity" and preventing total assimilation of for the few Jews who find themselves among your OL groups? It's a "distinct" identity in name only and those die off in a generation or two. Frankly, the result is exactly the same as for Jewish converts to Christianity - extinction as Jews.

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    2. Last time I checked, Gene, it was the gentiles filling MJ congregations...But I thought you knew this....

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    3. "Last time I checked, Gene, it was the gentiles filling MJ congregations...But I thought you knew this...."


      Hmm, filling, you say? With all that supposed discrimination and racism?

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    4. What is the ratio of Jews/Gentiles in MJ? I am talking halachically Jews....

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    5. Gene,

      RE: "Hmm, filling, you say? With all that supposed discrimination and racism?"

      52% of marriages end in divorce (approximately). Does that mean the other 48% are happy? Or is it possible that sometimes people stay in their group even though it makes them unhappy?

      That's precisely what happens in MJ synagogue. I witnessed this for years. And the Gentile women feel like they have to marry a Jew in order to be accepted. It's a real shame. Gentile men feel like they have to convert. Why else do you think the UMJC created the Our Rabbis site for conversion? But hey I could be wrong--I only heard this from a former President of the UMJC. Maybe you understand the UMJC better than him, Gene?

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    6. Short version: don't think the Gentiles in UMJC synagogue are all happy.

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    7. "Short version: don't think the Gentiles in UMJC synagogue are all happy. "

      Some of these people were not happy in a church, they are not happy in THE UMJC, even when they start their own OL/TH, they end up in splits or tiny home groups that fight each other.

      "That's precisely what happens in MJ synagogue. I witnessed this for years. And the Gentile women feel like they have to marry a Jew in order to be accepted. It's a real shame. Gentile men feel like they have to convert. "

      Guess what - they are Christians in a Jewish space - of course they will feel like they want to be Jews, because they see all this rich history, meaningful ritual, connection between Jews, etc. They too want to be "chosen", to be special, to be Jewish like Jesus.

      However, they should have come to live in Ukraine, where there were and are actual consequences of being Jewish, instead of just feelings of being special. Nobody was lining up to be Jewish when I was growing up.

      This too will pass, with time, when the time get interesting for Jews again, and they will.

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  3. Most "independent messianics" couldn't care less if Jews assimilated among them and disappeared, as any Jews who have entered Gentile majorities invariable did.

    Dan never lost his identity, I know he is a Jew, he knows I am a gentile, whats the problem?

    What solution do you propose for "upholding Jewish identity" and preventing total assimilation of for the few Jews who find themselves among your OL groups? It's a "distinct" identity in name only and those die off in a generation or two. Frankly, the result is exactly the same as for Jewish converts to Christianity - extinction as Jews.

    First of all, God will never allow Jews to go extinct, have a little faith. Second, Jewish distinction is not found in commandments, or gentiles would have to refrain from committing righteous acts, out of potential that they might be mistaken for a Jew, thus this eliminates BE, their are only a few things left, yet they are not small, one, is the fact of honor, being a natural born son has to count for something, not only that, Jews were given the places of authority... there is more than enough there to understand the differences, the place of honor, will always bring to remembrance that distinction, and obviously the authority will as well.

    With all that said, I can't help but see you are more concerned with Jewish identity, than our unity in the Body of Messiah.

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    1. "First of all, God will never allow Jews to go extinct, have a little faith."

      I am not talking about "Jews" in general - I am referring to those who found themselves among the various OL groups. Will their children be Jews and their children's children?

      "Dan never lost his identity, I know he is a Jew, he knows I am a gentile, whats the problem?"

      My friend Dan has cut himself off from the Jewish community of any kind, unfortunately. He can't get along with other Jews, either Messianic or "rabbinic", for whom he has nothing to offer but anger. He chose his own path, made his own bed.

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    2. "My friend Dan has cut himself off from the Jewish community of any kind, unfortunately. He can't get along with other Jews, either Messianic or "rabbinic", for whom he has nothing to offer but anger. He chose his own path, made his own bed."

      This is just idiotic, Gene. If the Rabbi and the people of your synagogue will find out you believe in "that man" they will kick you out lickedy split...To them and all mainstream Judaism that you are so eager to be part of, you are a Meshumad...

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    3. "they will kick you out lickedy split."

      First of all, that's bogus. I know at least 3 Jews personally (friends) and I know of others whose beliefs were found out and they were able to stay in their Orthodox communities (because they were seen as faithful Jews otherwise). Some of these people are in Israeli and some in U.S. synagogues.

      The difference between these people and you is that even if they were rejected by their fellow Jews, they wouldn't reject them back and speak vitriolically about them.

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    4. "The difference between these people and you is that even if they were rejected by their fellow Jews, they wouldn't reject them back and speak vitriolically about them."

      what you don't understand, bubbale, is that I don't reject Jews...How can I am Jewish, and I never renounced Judaism. Criticizing beliefs does not mean to speak "vitriolically" about them...though I am beginning to consider you with you fibs as worthy of speaking vitriolically against....

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    5. "I don't reject Jews...How can I am Jewish"

      History knows of many examples of Jews who rejected and poured hatred on other Jews. Pablo Christiani, Johannes Pfefferkorn, Abner of Burgos, Israel Shahak, Israel Shamir, Bobby Fischer, Noam Chomsky, etc.

      "and I never renounced Judaism"

      One Law theology is not Judaism. It was invented by (the old) FFOZ and Tim Hegg.

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    6. One Law theology is not Judaism. It was invented by (the old) FFOZ and Tim Hegg.

      And who invented Messianic Judaism, some Hebrew Christians?

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  4. Dan never lost his identity, I know he is a Jew, he knows I am a gentile, whats the problem?

    Zion, that's the saddest statement you could ever have made. Here's another one:

    “Everyone knew I was Jewish. It just didn’t mean anything.”

    -Rabbi Carl Kinbar

    That's an in-a-nutshell response to your lack of comprehension on why Jewish distinction is important within Messianic Judaism. A far more detailed discussion on the matter is included in my morning meditation for today.

    It's part of my series of articles on the FFOZ "Gifts of the Spirit" conference. You might have learned something if you attended that would have challenged many of the assumptions I find on this blog.

    Peter, this doesn't mean I'm opening myself up to another "bashing" session. I just find it difficult to believe that "Zion" attends a synagogue, has Jewish friends, and still doesn't believe their Judaism matters to them or to anyone else, including God.

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    1. Zion, that's the saddest statement you could ever have made. Here's another one:

      “Everyone knew I was Jewish. It just didn’t mean anything.”

      -Rabbi Carl Kinbar


      James, you are attacking me based on an assumption, I never said being Jewish means nothing, but because I don't put Jewish Identity over everything else in my faith, some how I view it as nothing?

      That's an in-a-nutshell response to your lack of comprehension on why Jewish distinction is important within Messianic Judaism. A far more detailed discussion on the matter is included in my morning meditation for today.

      It's part of my series of articles on the FFOZ "Gifts of the Spirit" conference. You might have learned something if you attended that would have challenged many of the assumptions I find on this blog.


      James, I do actually wish I attended, yes, I am sure I could have learned many things... You on the other hand are making many assumptions about me, and it is based on simply disagreeing with the priority some in MJ put on Jewish Identity. What happens when I read your blog, and comprehend and disagree with the conclusion, is it really just because I don't comprehend or is it possibly because I disagree?

      Peter, this doesn't mean I'm opening myself up to another "bashing" session. I just find it difficult to believe that "Zion" attends a synagogue, has Jewish friends, and still doesn't believe their Judaism matters to them or to anyone else, including God.

      I don't believe that Judaism does not matter or that Judaism does not matter to Jews, it even matters to me as Gentile, as it is the faith, my Messiah practiced... Thus you are mistaken about my beliefs, and are instead deciding what you think I believe, next time, just ask me questions, like Gene does. I will be more than willing to give my understanding or try to clarify even more.

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    2. James,

      I want to do a public service ad where you play my Dad and you come into my room and read my blog and the conversation goes like this:

      James: Where did you learn about flame-throwing?! Tell me!

      Peter: I don't know...

      James: Where?!

      Peter: I learned it from you, alright! I learned it from reading your comments to Zion!

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    3. In a text-only world, I can only know what I read, Zion. When I head Rabbi Kinbar utter those words at the beginning of his presentation, I immediately thought both of how Jews are treated as "Hebrew Christians" in the church and as "Hebrew Root practitioners" in the One Law and Two-House movements. Though I'm sure you'll disagree, One Law is the type of environment where Jewish members don't mean anything as Jewish people beyond a string if DNA and some "head knowledge."

      Zion, you accuse me of valuing Jewish identity above all else, but if you had actually read what I posted today (admittedly, it's quite long), you would have seen this:

      One who focuses on and romanticizes Judaism is focusing on the hammer and not the house it is intended to build.

      -Troy Mitchell as related by Boaz Michael

      Don’t seek Christianity and don’t seek Judaism, but seek an encounter with God.

      -Tom

      I don't expect you to read the rest of my "Gifts of the Spirit" series, but the focus of the conference was building the Kingdom of God by balancing the Gospel, the Torah, and the Spirit. Both Messianic Judaism and OL/TH/HR have historically tended to focus on Torah to the exclusion of the other two "legs." The emphasis of the speakers at the conference was to try to gain a balance.

      You can choose to cast me as the villain of this conversation, and since this is Peter's blog, I suppose that's the role I'll have to play, but consider that in most of the transactions I've had in the blogosphere over the past several years, do I really have a reputation as a "flamethrower?"

      Peter, I can't think of anything to say to you that I haven't already said before.

      I'll vacate now rather than test your patience any further than I already have.

      Good night.

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    4. James,

      Have a good night. Know that my patience with you is NOT being tested. I actually rather fond of you. The insults against Zion, that I don't care for. But I like you as a person. I actually think we're more alike than you'd care to admit.

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    5. I don't expect you to read the rest of my "Gifts of the Spirit" series, but the focus of the conference was building the Kingdom of God by balancing the Gospel, the Torah, and the Spirit. Both Messianic Judaism and OL/TH/HR have historically tended to focus on Torah to the exclusion of the other two "legs." The emphasis of the speakers at the conference was to try to gain a balance.

      I probably will read the rest of what you post concerning the conference as I am interested. And the topics sound good.

      Balance is a good thing, and I applaud them for that, I just hope they can bring more balance to the "Jewish Identity" predicament they are dealing with.

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    6. " I just hope they can bring more balance to the "Jewish Identity" predicament they are dealing with. "

      To you and others, Zion, "Jewish Identity" is a predicament, a tired problem that requires a solution, but to a Jew it's his/her very being.

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    7. To you and others, Zion, "Jewish Identity" is a predicament, a tired problem that requires a solution, but to a Jew it's his/her very being.

      Not at all, I respect Jewish identity, I even uphold it, and I am not Jewish :D, I just find in circles like the UMJC, as stated before, that Jewish identity is not in balance... I am not asking for Jewish identity to disappear, because then my faith disappears, I am asking for balance, and I don't think that is too much to ask.

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    8. He will not get it, Zion...And don't call me old again, I still can smack you...LOL!

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    9. And don't call me old again, I still can smack you...LOL!

      Sorry, but Gene setup the perfect scenario to pull the 'old' card... :D

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  5. I am not talking about "Jews" in general - I am referring to those who found themselves among the various OL groups. Will their children be Jews and their children's children?

    Gene, if Jews are given honor and in many cases the place of authority, how can it be forgotten, even the gentiles will be reminding them, and that has happened in my own experience.

    My friend Dan has cut himself off from the Jewish community of any kind, unfortunately. He can't get along with other Jews, either Messianic or "rabbinic", for whom he has nothing to offer but anger. He chose his own path, made his own bed.

    Dan did not lose his Jewish identity though, he's just an old man, lol :P... He still seems to affiliate in some way with the Messianic Movement and other Jews who hold to many of the same views as him.

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  6. "One Law is the type of environment where Jewish members don't mean anything as Jewish people beyond a string if DNA and some "head knowledge."

    That is how it is supposed to be, James. Or heaven't you read 1 Cor. 7:19?

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    1. James: "One Law is the type of environment where Jewish members don't mean anything as Jewish people..."

      Dan: "That is how it is supposed to be"

      This speaks volumes... for any Jew to choose to be part of any religious community that thinks along those lines about Israel and Jews is basically an existential suicide.

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  7. Well, Gene, I guess Paul committed suicide....You are reeking galut...

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    1. "Well, Gene, I guess Paul committed suicide...."

      If Paul actually thought along the same lines, then I guess he did.

      "You are reeking galut..."

      If am I in galut, then it's because I am there with my fellow Jews.

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  8. "If Paul actually thought along the same lines, then I guess he did."

    Well, unlike you, Gene, people, including Paul think before they write...

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    1. "Well, unlike you, Gene, people, including Paul think before they write..."

      What others think or not, it for them to know. You can only speak for yourself.

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  9. "What others think or not, it for them to know. You can only speak for yourself."

    Oh, I see, we really cannot know what God really thought when He gave His word...He might thought of Cinderella and what we believe is really just bogus...

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    1. "Oh, I see, we really cannot know what God really thought when He gave His word"

      That's right, at least Paul himself thought so:

      Romans 11:34 "Who has known the mind of the L-rd?"

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    2. Well, from what we saw up to now, you don't...

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    3. "Well, from what we saw up to now, you don't..."

      I don't. Do you?

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  10. Shabbat Shalom, Gene. To you and yours.

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