November 5, 2013

"As a Jewish and Hindu couple with a 'HinJew' son... we’re raising him to be 100 percent both."

"For some, particularly adherents to Western religions, that math doesn’t add up. But faith, by definition, is not always logical or rational...."

43 comments:

openidname said...

How can you believe in many gods and only one god at the same time? Whatever this kid is, it's neither Hindu nor Jewish.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Putting the "nu" in Vishnu.

Ann Althouse said...

"How can you believe in many gods and only one god at the same time?"

How can you believe in the Trinity?

BDNYC said...

Stupid.

My marriage is an interfaith one. However we raise our children, their religious upbringing is going to add up to 100% something. Nothing more, nothing less.

A bit tautological, sure. But you can't have your cake and eat it too. If my children aren't raised fully Catholic or fully Muslim, they'll be something else altogether. The one thing they won't be 100% both. How greedy can a parent be?

Kelly said...

Oh well, he'll end up neither.

YoungHegelian said...

I know a Jewish/Hindu couple. She's basically non-practicing & he thinks he's Orthodox. The paternal grandparents seem to be somewhat flummoxed by their little, brown non-kosher grandson, unfortunately.

This pairing brought to mind this line from Michael Medved's musings at Commentary's symposium on Why are Jews Liberal?

Anyone who doubts that rejection of Jesus has replaced acceptance of Torah (or commitment to Israel) as the eekur sach—the essential element—of American Jewish identity should pause to consider an uncomfortable question. What is the one political or religious position that makes a Jew utterly unwelcome in the organized community? We accept atheist Jews, Buddhist Jews, pro-Palestinian Jews, Communist Jews, homosexual Jews, and even sanction Hindu-Jewish meditation societies. “Jews for Jesus,” however, or “Messianic Jews” face resistance and exclusion everywhere.

pm317 said...

There is only one god in Hinduism too. Ask Paul Zrimsek (he seems to know).

pm317 said...

Family values-wise (there is that phrase) and culturally, I think Hindus and Jews could be very similar.

pm317 said...

Judging by the last name of the Hindu wife, she appears to be a Southie and a Tamil. They are staunch adherents to their culture to the point of excluding everything else. But she did marry this other guy. I am sure the kid will be very confused, more so than usual.

openidname said...

"'How can you believe in many gods and only one god at the same time?'"

"How can you believe in the Trinity?"

Well, I'm Jewish, so I don't get that either.

Michael K said...

One of my medical students told me that her mother had finally told her they were not going to have a Christmas tree and presents any more. She said her mother told her "We are Hindu !"

The girl was disappointed Religion any more is culture.

YoungHegelian said...

@Althouse/openidname,

Uhhm, three Persons, one God.

I would say it's really not that tough, but I guess it really is.

And take care there, openidname. It wasn't the goyim who picked Elohim (a plural) as a word for God in the OT.

n.n said...

Doesn't the Trinity concept describe multiple aspects of one entity? Each different but united with the Father. I imagine it's similar to human dignity arising from consciousness which is derived from a single pool of a-toms but governed (or constrained) by an underlying order (i.e. "Father").

David said...

Hey, if college newspapers can have five co editors in chief (my alma mater Wesleyan), and high schools can have multiple valedictorians, and Muslims and Mormons multiple wives, why not multiple religions with one god and many.

Remember, television used to be just 13 channels.

See how much that has improved.

Paddy O said...

"How can you believe in the Trinity?"

Well, it starts with One God, add more gods and it's anathema.

I gave a week's worth of lectures on this earlier in the Fall.

What's interesting is that even though there have been a crazy number of ways to understand the Trinity, as far as I know there's never been a Christian (heresy or otherwise) who argued for a tritheism. Though, it's hard to describe the Trinity without people assuming that's what you mean.

It's pretty clear in the Bible what God thought about Jewish folk who thought they could mix and match their religion.

Hear, O Israel!

EDH said...

Both of my parents raised me watching lots of UHF television sponsored by direct marketing commercials.

As a result, I'm a practicing GinSu.

YoungHegelian said...

@Paddy,

as far as I know there's never been a Christian (heresy or otherwise) who argued for a tritheism

Interesting point. All the heresies seem to collapse the Persons into aspects of the Godhead, or to place them outside divinity entirely.

I tell ya, though, the Eastern Orthodox understanding of the Trinity as a union of three hypostases seems to the RC Scholastic mind to veer dangerously close to polytheism. But I guess we Latins are just scumbags that way...

William said...

I knew an Anglican who married a Methodist. The marriage endured but their children were basket cases.

Paddy O said...

"veer dangerously close"

Exactly. Christian theology has come near but always sees the edge and purposefully stays away. There's a really strong taboo (to mix religious terminology) against more than one God.

Jim S. said...

There are monotheistic forms of Hinduism.

I take issue with their claim that "faith, by definition, is not always logical or rational." That's something atheists think about religious people -- and perhaps some religious people believe about people of other religions -- but to say that's a definitional aspect of faith is just absurd. Christians believe that Jesus is the divine logos, from whence we get the word "logic". Logic is an expression of God's nature.

ddh said...

Judaism is a monotheistic religion in which God is the creator of the universe and retains a separate identity from His creation. Hinduism is a pantheistic religion in which all of the universe is God--you, me, all living and nonliving things.

Being vegetarian can't begin to bridge that gap in religious outlook--unless, of course, you don't believe much of anything.

jimbino said...

Faith has little to do with religion. I brush my teeth religiously.

You can be an atheist and a Jew, of course, as was Einstein, the most famous Jew since Jesus.

great Unknown said...

The most famous Jew since Jesus? How about Marx?

Freeman Hunt said...

In the Hebrew Bible, God mentions his thoughts many times on mixing religions. He doesn't seem to be a fan.

mccullough said...

Use the For e, Luke

openidname said...

@YoungHegelian It's an honorific. Or do you think every monarch who uses the royal "we" has multiple personality disorder?

R. Chatt said...

A lot of the whole point of religions is to offer some stability through identification with a group and the group has a common language and psychological view on life. On Saturdays the kid will be Jewish and worship the one and only true God, beyond plurality or multiplicity. Then on Monday the kid will worship Shiva and on Friday Lakshmi, etc. because Hindus believe in different aspects of God? It makes no sense and at that age the child doesn't have the emotional or intellectual capacity to make sense of it.

Jason said...

Hear O Israel! The Lord Our G-d, The Lord is ONE!!! (Some assembly required).

Jason said...

How can you believe in the Trinity? Simple, professor. In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. Then the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. All else follows.

Michael McNeil said...

There are monotheistic forms of Hinduism.

There are atheistic forms of Hinduism: i.e., Samkhya, one of the orthodox schools of Hindu philosophy — upon which another orthodox school, (Raja) Yoga, is based — conceives of no deities at all.

And yet, disregarding those philosophical exceptions, Hinduism does have hundreds of “gods” — while remaining, in essence, monotheistic. How is this possible? Simple, really. Hinduism places the (capital-G) monotheistic God as far above the ordinary (little-g) “gods” (including the king of the gods, Indra) as the Lord on High is above not just humans but the ants. (See the affecting Hindu myth “The Parade of Ants” for vivid illustration of this.)

Considering that, the latter so-called “gods” really deserve another name in my view, like angels or demons — but for now writing them as lowercase gods will have to do. Just keep in mind that God vs. gods in Hinduism are qualitatively on completely different planes.

Who is this monotheistic God of Hinduism? Vishnu or Shiva according to different cults. For instance, the sleeping God, Vishnu's dream is our world.

By the way, the Neoplatonic pagan religion of late Antiquity — which had subsumed all the old polytheistic gods of earlier Roman and Greek times, as well as the new eastern mystery religions (excepting Christianity) into a single faith that faced and fought Christianity in their ultimate struggle for supremacy during the third and fourth centuries A.D. — was also, in essence, monotheistic.

In both cases, the distinction that ddh draws is a good one (better, as he notes, than monotheism versus polytheism) — though as I understand it Hinduism does distinguish between the creative God and the results of His creation (the World) — e.g., Shiva vis-à-vis his feminine counterpart Shakti.

Elise Ronan said...

Prof- Jews, pure monotheists, do not believe in the Trinity, and openly reject the idea, so your analogy is not correct.

You cannot be a polytheist of any kind and a practicing Jew. These religious ideas are anathema to each other.

Either way, what this couple decides to do as far as religious education of their child is their choice and then of course when he reaches adulthood the child himself will decide his own belief system.

YoungHegelian said...

@openidname,

It's an honorific. Or do you think every monarch who uses the royal "we" has multiple personality disorder?

No, I believe that the explanation of "honorific" is a rationalization of a problematic text that the rabbis came up with hundreds of years after the text was written. Just like the Christians came up with a different Trinitarian rationalization for that problematic text hundreds of years after it was written.

lgv said...

As an Indian, they need to raise the child to not believe you can have 200% of anything. The math doesn't work.

The concept of being both is silly because they contradict each other. It doesn't even have to be in the ccontext of religion. If a hot dog eating champion (amongst generations of hot dog eating champions) marries a vegan. They cannot raise the child as 100% both. Something has to give.

Anglelyne said...

Are interfaith marriages something new in the land? Just wondering.

If Jews are truly to “love the stranger,” as directed to do throughout the Torah, then surely Jewish leaders and institutions can embrace [fill in the blank with whatever it is you're hankering to do].

It's amazing what I've seen foggy minds do with those Jewish and Christian injunctions to treat outsiders decently. Mercifully, in this instance "loving strangers" doesn't involve other people's money.

...surely Jewish leaders and institutions can embrace loving, marrying and procreating with someone of another faith. Failure to do so will further marginalize those of us in mixed marriages who are committed to Jewish continuity.

"Thou shalt not marginalize" being, of course, the Zeroth Commandment.

hombre said...

"How can you believe in the Trinity?"

Brush up on your Christian theology, Professor. One omnipotent God, three manifestations.

ken in sc said...

Arian Christians believed in tritheism. To them the trinity consisted of three separate gods. The tribe known to history as Vandals were Arian Christians. The first thing they did when conquering part of the Roman Empire, was trash the local Catholic Church, which gave their name to such behavior even today.

Steven said...

"But faith, by definition, is not always logical or rational...."

No, not by definition. The story of Elijah versus the priests of Baal shows that once upon a time, people actually expected religion to stand up to experiment. St. Thomas the Apostle demanded to feel the marks of the Crucifixion. St. Paul wrote of phenomena that proved the existence of God. St. Thomas Aquinas put together an effort to prove reason alone, without revelation, would lead someone to conclude all the Catholic Faith was true.

The idea that faith was not trust, but active defiance of reason, was created as a desperate effort to save religion from the successful advance of scientific reasoning in the last half-millennium.

Because, of course, nowadays God seems to be as sleepy as Baal.

dbp said...

SatireWire had a good take on the hinjew idea back in 2009.

"Hinjew leaders today conceded the merger of Hinduism and Judaism has not worked as planned, as instead of forming a super-religion to fight off the common Islamic enemy, they have in fact created a race of 900 million people who, no matter how many times they are reincarnated, can never please their mothers."

Ann Althouse said...

"Brush up on your Christian theology, Professor. One omnipotent God, three manifestations."

No, I don't need to "brush up." I am calling upon you to take what you know about Christians believing in the Trinity and to use your imagination to conceive of the parents' HinJew project. If the Trinity can be worked out and understood, do an equivalent working out of the merger of Judaism and Hinduism. Can the human mind do such a thing? I believe it can.

Imagine 2 religions. It's easy if you try….

I'm not asking you to believe it. I'm asking you to understand that it is something that someone else could believe.

There are people who try to merge all religions into one religion. I would like to do that and even be inclusive toward atheists.

Imagine that!

Ophir said...

@YoungHegelian - The ambiguity regarding the origins of the word Elohim is not comparable with the concept of the Trinity. Already in the Hebrew Bible, centuries before rabbinical Judaism, Elohim is a term almost always modified by singular verbs - the text, not the rabbis, identify Elohim as singular. No one with any familiarity with the history of religion would deny that Judaism started out as a monolatrist sect (and even then, one that frequently regressed to worshipping other gods) with a small monotheistic priestly and prophetic elite. If you want to argue that the ancient Israelites were not purely monotheistic there's no need to bring up the ambiguous linguistic origins of the name Elohim - the Bible is full of descriptions of Israelites blatantly worhsipping Baal, Asherah, Moloch and other Canaanite deities.

Jews and Muslims understand that the Trinity does not mean that Christians worship three different gods. And similar concepts regarding different "aspects" of God can be found in certain forms of both religions (eg the ten sephirot, or emanations, of God in the Kabbalah). But, in their pure philosophical forms both religions are monotheistic to the extreme. In particular, the concept of God the Son (identified with a flesh-and-blood human being) is seen as idolatrous to both, though even then they still recognize that to Christians Jesus is not a seperate deity.

The Trinity is traditional and present Christian orthodoxy and it is incompatible with the extreme abstract unitarian monotheism of Judaism and Islam.

If you're a trinitarian Christian that's not a bad thing and there's no need to try and draw false comparisons with ancient and nontraditional forms of Judaism and Islam.

hombre said...

Can the human mind do such a thing? I believe it can. Imagine 2 religions. It's easy if you try….

There are people who try to merge all religions into one religion. I would like to do that and even be inclusive toward atheists.... Imagine that.


The capricious human mind can conceive of almost anything depending upon the moment. Take your example, some people even conceive of merging all religions, including atheism, into one religion.

But we were talking about the Trinity and Christianity isn't about people and their whims. It is about God. His Word leads us away from caprice in matters of concern to Him.

Christianity is available to all who choose it in accordance with God's expressed will.

Freeman Hunt said...

Because, of course, nowadays God seems to be as sleepy as Baal.

I'd say it's the people who've gotten sleepy, and God is as active and reasonable as ever.

Ann Althouse said...

"The capricious human mind can conceive of almost anything depending upon the moment… But we were talking about the Trinity and Christianity isn't about people and their whims. It is about God. His Word leads us away from caprice in matters of concern to Him."

Can your capricious mind conceive of another human mind who conceives of what you conceive of as the conception of a capricious mind?

You're just saying: But what I'm saying is really true!

That's want nearly every religious person says about his religion.