[QUOTE]Originally posted by Orthodox Catholic:
>>>As for forced Jewish conversions, historians are, alas, mere interpreters of history, as are all social scientists.<<<
It is true that we are interpreters, but I believe in critical realism, which is not simple logical positivism on the one hand, nor nihilistic relativism on the other. I believe that with our rational faculties we are able to discern from available evidence a reality that has an objective existence outside of our own perceptions and experience.
>>>Yes, as a social scientist too, I include social, economic and political pressures.<<<
I would not include those as "conversions", but as coercions.
>>>In Russia, Jews were baptised into Orthodoxy to prevent discrimination against them on religious grounds. Once in the Church, they had no further problems in this regard.<<<
This would come as a great surprise to many Russians of Jewish descent, who despite their ancestor's baptisms and assimilations, still found themselves ostracized as Jews.
>>>Whatever bishops said against forced conversions, it was often never implemented, just as what the Popes said against antisemitism was never implemented either.<<<
Well, once someone is dead, there isn't much you can do to bring him back, but to the extent it was possible, both bishops and popes have tried over the century to defend the Jews more than persecute them. The theological rationale for their action may not meet with our approval today, but more often than not, it was the Church which was the defender of the Jews against the secular powers (which saw a pogrom as a useful form of debt protection, a sort of bloody Chapter XI bankruptcy).
So I don't understand how what you said contrasts with what I said, except that you present more paragraphs.
I agree with you that Jesus was Jewish, along with Peter, Paul etc. How does that address what I implied about Jesus not engaging in forced conversion?
>>>St Francis of Assisi, if my esteemed historian will recall, was noted for his OPPOSITION to the way in which Muslims and others were approached by the Christians of his day. He made friends with people first and loved them. People were converted to Jesus through experiencing Him in the person of Francis. This was language that everyone understood.<<<
That is true. However, because the bishops write in such obtuse language, one might get the impression that they think it inappropriate or even bad manners, to even discuss religious differences with our Jewish bretheren (a term which I can use in a very literal sense). In fact, I get on much better with my Orthodox Jewish aunt, uncle and cousins in that area than I do with my (effectively non-believing) parents. Our lives are centered on God, and we agree on many things. We just disagree on one big thing. But we're cool about it.
>>>Western missionaries often had the strong arm of colonial and imperial government behind them. Mass baptisms and conversions in the Latin countries did not allow the Christian faith to take deep root. The faith was not normally allowed to inculturate itself in the local ways etc. and we know the rest of the story.<<<
Which is why, outside of Western Europe, the Roman Catholic faith is often a mile wide and an inch deep; it explains very well why evangelical Protestantism has made such rapid inroads in traditionally "Catholic" societies like Latin America--they were never all that "Catholic" in the first place.
>>>We of the East embrace God first in the Liturgy and then we think about Him by way of theology. The West seemed to do it the other way around.<<<
Not originally. Certainly that wasn't the way Patrick converted the Irish, or Augustine of Canterbury the Saxons. Later on, what you say became true, but only because the relative importance of liturgy and theology had changed in the Latin West as a whole.
>>>That is why I say you appear to be making a contradiction where, as a Byzantine Christian, none should exist for you. If I've misinterpreted you, forgive me.<<<
Liturgy is the beginning, the origin, the touchstone of faith. But we cannot forget that the liturgy exists outside of the Liturgy, or that the Fathers of the East also concerned themselves with teaching and elaboration of the Word, as well as with its celebration. So both are needed--the question is how to relate the two to each other.
>>>I think that Jewish converts to Orthodoxy have served to bring a great hearkening back to our common Jewish roots in the faith of Abraham and the heritage of Moses and the Prophets.<<<
Certainly my first exposure to our services of Orthros and Vespers, as well as to our overall use of psalmody, and the form of some of our liturgica prayers, rang the "mystic chords of memory" for me. As I like to tell people (especially those I suspect of being at least mildly anti-semitic), WE are the Jews, the inheritors of Israel, the New Jerusalem. Our ties with Old Jerusalem are strong indeed.
>>>We no longer expect people to become Jews before they become Christians. I personally think that some familiarity with Judaism is a necessary component for a rounded out Christian life.<<<
Next time we have a Seder in my family, you are invited.
>>>I agree that the Catholic Bishops sometimes state what is so painfully obvious, or should be.<<<
My worry is that they don't seem to think it's all that obvious. Like Moliere's Bourgeois Gentilhomme, they are amazed to find themselves speaking in prose.
>>>But they are not illiterate, Mentor in Christ, as they DO know how to read and write
Ever read any of their sermons?
>>>And you yourself have fallen prey to your own criticism.
Bishops are bureaucrats? POSSIBLY?<<<
I think it's called "pathos".