Friday, June 27, 2008

A Sad Day


Truthful ideas can weather criticism. A correct theory will survive logical attacks, and proponents of correct theories should not and generally are not afraid of critical analysis.

Yet religious concepts have a tough time withstanding logical criticism. When I scan the internet, I find no shortage of orthodox Jewish blogs. Very few of them, though, are open to honest discussion. The comment sections of these blogs are generally not friendly to critics.

One notable exception to this was the so-called “Jewish philosopher” (to be found at Jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com). I liked reading and commenting on this blog mainly because the blog represented Orthodox Jewish thinking without apology, and because it accepted frank criticism of its ideas.

In fact, besides the “Jewish Philosopher” blog, I am unaware of any other blog that unabashedly represents Orthodox Jewish ideas, and is willing to defend itself against criticism. No other Jewish blog was willing to tackle Evolution Theory, Jewish Orthodoxy’s views on atheism, authenticity of the Torah, the view of Jews about non-Jews, and God’s alleged relations with people. Although I frequently heard opinions similar to Jewish Philosopher in Orthodox Jewish circles, no one was willing to place these opinions in writing and defend them. No one was willing to attempt to defend these ideas in a forum where opinions could be openly exchanged. No one, except JP!

A group of very smart readers and commentators had blossomed around JP’s blog and regularly left comments. Generally no one was able to change one another’s opinions, at least not by anyone’s admission, but there was, I felt, an honest exchange of opinions. It was fun to see and anticipate the comments of people following a new blog post, and I certainly took some time every day to read this entertaining blog.

So I was saddened to see that this last blog go by the wayside. As of a couple of days ago, ‘the Jewish Philosopher’ has begun ‘moderating’ the comments section, in effect censoring dissenting commentary. Now, it is important to mention that no one has used foul language and aside from the usual banter and playful put downs, no one generally left obscene or grossly demeaning commentary. So, I must conclude that the reason for moderating the comments section must have been the withering and generally successful criticisms of Orthodox Jewish ideas. I guess the kitchen got a bit too hot and JP felt that he had to get out of it.

Too bad!

It is thus my intention to pick up where JP failingly left off. I will provide blog entries similar to ‘the Jewish Philosopher’ in order to introduce Orthodox Jewish or religious ideas in order to provide a forum for commentary. Of course, I am unable to provide perverse and tortured logical constructs, the kind JP masterfully and consistently delivers. But I will try to deliver blogs to serve as springboards for further discussion and commentary. For those who wish to contribute blog writings so that we can provide frequent and consistent entries, please let me know.

6 comments:

The Raz said...

I too was saddened when I realized what he did. At first I thought he had just done it to me but soon realized we were all silenced. I am glad you’re picking up where he left off and look forward to reading your blog. Only problem is, how in the world are we going to be able to replicate JPs crazy ideas. He didn’t represent Orthodox Judaism; he represented a very twisted Jacob Stein vision of Orthodox Judaism. I decided to do something similar, and took JPs advice on this whole blog thing. I figure no one else should mistake his posts for being truly representative of Jewish Philosophy and that the blog universe needed a little balancing. I too will take up where he left off, sort of, and try to elevate this so called Jewish philosophy. Occasionally, if he says something that really, really fires me up I’ll just do what I am dubbing “the anti-post,” where I will re-post his outlandish blog comments and then comment on them myself, uncensored by him. I haven’t done it yet as his posts have been relatively tame and I’m being selective as anti-posts could quickly become my entire blog.

badrabbi said...

Raz;

I read your blog, which is very well written. And I agree with your comments.

In this blog,I am attempting to emulate JP's style in order to provide an alternate forum by which people can leave comments and discuss things. The posts I will contribute have the following pattern:

1. They will present Jewish thinking in its extreme, in the tradition of JP.

2. The blogs will have a kernel of truth. I will do my best to keep them logical and persuasive, though I must admit that they will contain logical fallacies in them, again, in the tradition of JP.

3. As time goes on, I hope to get good at the kind of writing whereby I can present the Orthodox Jewish person's views honestly and forcefully even though I do not agree with such views myself. Again, the purpose is to encourage discussion and debate.

As Cameron suggested, we can even take turns, presenting a given idea on religion and/or politics and discuss it.

Let's see how it will turn out.

The Raz said...

I'm all for it and will do my best to bring some of the ideas I hear in shul or Kollel every week. But man, sometimes it's hard to pretend to back up the type of things JP brings forth, even for the sake of arguments. I look forward to your picking up the torch and can't wait to have a forum dedicated to the orthodox extreme opinion as it may a little out of my reach to put myself in those shoes.

badrabbi said...

good Raz

הצעיר שלמה בן רפאל לבית שריקי ס"ט said...

Maaan, you know JP, he's not the Russian government- he's not 'censoring dissenting comments', he just doesn't like when people curse and say total nonsense there for no reason; really spoils the mood, no?

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