Opinions wanted

September 21, 2011 at 9:39 pm | Posted in Atheism, Religion | 13 Comments
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Several days ago I posted, Your god is a psychopath with a twisted sense of humor.  It begins with a story about some odd religious practices engaged in by a sect of orthodox Jews.  My post was precipitated by a discussion with a a group of friends, a few of whom are Jewish, who told the story of a rabbi in their home town who, to their surprise, engaged in this practice.

A few years ago I had occasion to meet the aforementioned rabbi in a quasi business situation.  To be perfectly clear, this meeting took place in the secular world, where I live, and had nothing whatsoever to do with religion.  When introduced to the rabbi he was so completely detached it was as if I were invisible.  I’m not the most social person in the world but I do have  a considerable amount of experience being introduced to people, and understand how people generally behave upon meeting one another.  This man wasn’t even on the same planet with normal behavior.  During the hour or so the group was together I happened to encounter the rabbi a few times and attempted to be polite and was completely ignored.  I noticed that he was amiable with other men and women in attendance and wondered what the hell his problem, with me, was.  At one point I did check the mirror to see if perhaps I had, by some strange twist of fate, become invisible…I had not.  I concluded that the rabbi was simply a major jerk-off.  Of course, now that I know the somersault story it occurs to me the guy may have rolled on his head one too many times.

I mentioned the rude rabbi, later to another member of the group, a somewhat knowledgeable Jew, who explained the rabbi’s sect segregates men from women and he doesn’t deign to speak with women unless absolutely necessary.  I maintained that is all well and good in his own little religious community, but if he chooses to venture out into the real world he should respect its social mores and conventions…just as I would be expected to respect those of his community should I visit; which I plan on doing as soon as the temperature in hell drops to below freezing.  I expressed the belief that if it’s not possible for him to manage some slight behavior modification perhaps he should either: not venture outside of his community, or live in a place where his behavior is the social norm.  Should I/we be expected to adjust my/our behavior to accommodate the religious beliefs of the outsider, or should the outsider respect the rules of the culture he is visiting ?   My Jewish friend, who I suspect might be biased, thinks I’m dead wrong.  What say you?  I’m very interested in what others have to say about this.



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  1. It seems to be a fact of the Patriarchal religions that special rules of privilege apply to them in all situations. Then there was the vote in the year 584 CE, in Lyons, France, where forty-three Catholic bishops and twenty men representing other bishops, held a most peculiar debate: “Are Women Human?” After many lengthy arguments, a vote was taken. The results were: thirty-two, yes; thirty-one, no. Women were declared human by one vote!

    Sadly, many still dispute this result.

    • So I guess I know how Mr. Rabbi would have voted. So what do you think, if he ventures into our world should he, as amberblue states (below), at least be civil? Or, are we expected to make allowances for his rudeness because of his beliefs?

      • Just as we allow them to be tax-free, so we should allow them strange peccadilloes. There should be no difference between Catholic priests and Jewish Rabbis. They are all inspired by God and so are allowed to behave in unlawful and often anti-social ways. The laws of men do not apply to them. Ask them. They will tell you.

        I think we, as atheists, need to find a way of dealing with this. Perhaps a plate of spaghetti and meatballs in their face would be a start! In the case of the Rabbi, pork meatballs would be required.

        • Just put the spaghetti and pork balls down in his path just before his head hits the floor as he is mid-somersault.

          I agree with Honjii. If religious folks want to be respected it goes both ways. Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.

  2. I’m with you, I don’t think it would have really killed the rabbi to at least be civil.

  3. I disagree. God is sacred and it doesn’t matter where we are, our worship of Him should not be interfered with. If you don’t like it leave.

    • Leave? Perhaps you missed the part about me being in my own element, the rabbi was the outsider.

  4. I am in total agreeance with you. When i went to Israel with a bunch of other US Jewish students (this was in my belief/Jewish cultural identity phase, to which i no longer subscribe to) for two months my senior year of HS, we went to an ultra-orthodox/chasidic neighborhood in Jerusalem and we were required to conform to their customs out of respect (well respect and the fact that we would be spit on or harrassed or assualted if we did not). Men had to wear yarmulkes, women long skirts (NO PANTS FSM forbid a woman wears pants, the horror!) and i believe they had to wear a hat that at least partially covered their hair. If we were expected to conform while visiting their community why shouldn’t they at least make a modicum of an effort to at least talk to a woman when dealing with the REAL world?

    • Put me down as being in agreement with Honjii.

      we were required to conform to their customs out of respect (well respect and the fact that we would be spit on or harrassed or assualted if we did not).

      StaggerLee, as you can probably tell by my name I am a Jew, by birth, though no longer practicing because I have not liked what I have seen in much of the Jewish community and in Israel and I want to distance myself from what I see as obnoxious behavior. And my people wonder why we have a bad name. I also visited Israel and could have written your comment because my experience was very much like yours. I have also found that here in the U.S.A. many Jews are very closely networked and even those who are not ultra orthodox seem to keep to their own communities, do business only with their own, associate either exclusively or primarily with their own, and treat those outside of their Jewish circle as being slightly beneath them. In Israel I was surprised at the spitting and harassment because isn’t this one of the things that American Jews and Israelis alike are constantly faulting Arab communities for? I’m sorry to say that the Jews are just as big of hypocrites as the Christians are.

      • I forgot where I was going with the part about American Jews living in tight knit, exclusive communities. What I wanted to point out that an outsider is expected, no required, to respect the standards and practices of that community, so it is not just in Israel but they don’t seem to care about anybody else’s beliefs or standards when outside their own group.

  5. I am not that clever but I think the best way to to deal with this is to expose their behavior by joining in a group conversation and repeatedly asking questions to which they should answer. Do this a couple of times and when they don’t respond, the others in the conversation will realize what is happening and draw the proper conclusion.

    • Ellie again, I hope I’m not being a pain in the butt. Schweddy, you are clever and that is a good idea in theory. The problem is the non Jews who don’t have an understanding of the Jewish custom (as Honjii did not) would not understand without more explanation and would not be able to draw the proper conclusion, and the Jews present who do have the understanding would not see a problem.

  6. 3 members will be able to travel off base from 6 to 11 p.m. but should take special care to avoid offensive dress or behavior… The locals will cover up more during Ramadan said Lt. We should act like guests because we are guests in their country. .Base officials expressed concern about off-base driving during Ramadan… Drivers are going to be crankier because their sleep has been modified and they cant eat or smoke during the day said Colonel Hugg.

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