Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Your Comment Awaits Moderation

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "How to Join the Conversation."

Christians are taught to "go make disciples” or “followers of Jesus." They want to get in that "jab" to make a point. I was raised around them all my life and that is what they are taught to do. Their way is the ONLY way just like most fanatics- and you will be damned to hell if you don't believe like them. When I became Jewish I felt like such a "load" was lifted off of me with all that condemnation crap….

Although this comment from Anonymous was not left at the bottom of the post, I believe it is a response to my description of a pastor’s prayer at an interfaith luncheon, in which I wrote: “I don’t think that he intended to exclude anyone from his prayers—he must have been unaware of the presence of those who do not accept Jesus’ divinity….”  How do you want to respond to Anonymous?

I ache for those who, like Anonymous, have had a terrible experience in the name of any religion, most especially the Christian faith I profess. Ironically, the “Christians” described by Anonymous failed to be Christ-like. My hope and prayer for you, Anonymous, is that you will find true shalom in your new faith and that, over time, you will be able to forgive those who clearly wronged you.  I pray, too, that those who offended in the name of Christianity will come to understand and live the commandments that Jesus said summed up all religious teaching: Love God with all your heart, mind, and soul, and your neighbor as yourself.

Unfortunately, there are individuals or groups in every tradition who are capable of scaring away followers of their faith. Sadly enough, it only takes one person to misrepresent a religion and send the wrong message. The better way for anyone to express their love for God is by having a beautiful character towards all people. I find this notion touchingly expressed in the Quran. Addressing the prophet Muhammad [Peace and Blessings be upon him], God says: “So by mercy from God, [O Muhammad], you were lenient with them. And if you had been rude in speech and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from about you. So pardon them and ask forgiveness for them and consult them in the matter. And when you have decided, then rely upon God. Indeed, God loves those who rely upon Him.” (3:159)

At first, as you both know, I was not inclined to approve this comment, because our mission is to publish productive, interfaith conversations in cyberspace and to avoid augmenting the hostility already residing there.  That is precisely why we agreed that all comments would be moderated.  Yet you convinced me to allow Anonymous to have a voice in our conversation and you inspired me to join you in responding to this reader’s concerns. I encourage Anonymous and all readers to engage in dialogue—not diatribe—in this space.  We do not shy away from difficult conversations here, but we insist that participants in our conversation maintain a respectful tone.  Please write your comments in the first-person singular, from a position of openness and desire to learn.  Strive to approach the texts with curiosity and to question one another without judging. As the great 1st century sage Hillel taught: “Do not judge your friends until you are in their place.” (Mishnah Avot 2:4)


  1. Words are so powerful. Consider: God created everything through speech. Adam was given the responsibility of naming things. Worlds can be created, or destroyed, by words.

    I applaud your decision to print A's comment and allow this important conversation to continue.

    1. Thank you for reminding me to look at the power of words through the lens of the Creation story. Thanks, also, for your words of support regarding our decision to publish Anonymous' words.

      Your comment reminds me of a piece of wisdom from one of my rabbis. He used to urge caution about calling names from the pulpit (in thank you's or extending personal wishes, etc.) because it is only one small step away from name-calling from the pulpit. I have tried to heed his humorous advice and choose my words carefully in all situations.