April 2011

Passover and Hope

This week is the holiday of Passover for Jews all around the world. Passover is one of the few religious observances that comes directly from the text of the Torah. In those passages it is known as "The Feast of Unleavened Bread" and it is prescribed as a time when Jews should perform certain rituals to commemorate the release of their ancestors from captivity in Egypt. This festival evolved into the modern Seder, the meal of storytelling and prayer that recounts the highlights of the Book of Exodus and presents many symbols of slavery and freedom in the form of foods as a lesson for all those in attendance. Appropriately enough, President Barack Obama has made it a habit to conduct a Seder at the White House. I say this is appropriate because one of the major themes of Mr. Obama's election campaign is also one of the major themes of Passover. Namely, hope.

The Argument Against "Judeo-Christian"

For a long time now, people have used the catch-all term "Judeo-Christian" to describe broad strokes of social and philosophical ideas in Western society. This term is absurd, reductive and offensive, not to mention self-contradictory. This would be evident to anyone who has a proper understanding of the stark differences between Judaism and Christianity, both as cultures and as religious philosophies. The use of "Judeo-Christian" is an indication of ignorance and the willful marginalization of an entire people, while simultaneously suggesting some rather awful and incorrect ideas about many other religions and cultures.