The last of the trilogy of fundamentalist followers of the god of Abraham was broadcast yesterday on CNN. The previous two episodes were about Jewish and Muslim fundamentalists. Yesterday's show about Christian fundamentalism was clearly the most disturbing.
There is clearly no danger coming from Jewish fundamentalism. The height of Jewish zealotry occurred nearly 2,000 years ago during the Roman wars in which at least1.5 million Jews were murdered by the Romans. And that war was based upon a true desire for freedom from an oppressive occupation. Until 1948, the Jewish community was the subject of further genocides by the Christian heirs to the Roman Empire. During the Diaspora that followed the Roman wars, the bulk of the Talmud was written in what has been called the Rabbinic period of Judaism. The Talmud is essentially about discussions and debates about the meaning of the Torah. The Rabbis of that period were seriously interested in the interpretation of the literal scripture. From their prospective, the destruction of the second Temple was clearly a catastrophic event that caused the rabbis to question why god had abandoned the Jews.
The teachings of the Talmud had a direct impact on the Jewish view of fundamentalism. Accordingly, Jewish religious teachings even in the orthodox sect allows for debate about the literal scripture. And if one reads the literal scripture, the god of Abraham is not a very nice deity. In my view, the Talmud is a rationalization of the literal scripture. In effect, the Talmud says that scripture is subject to interpretation. The great Jewish sage Maimonides, had a very open and philosophical view of scripture and god. According to Maimonides, all of Jewish law aims at two things: the improvement of the body and the improvement of the soul. The former is in every case a means to the latter. The soul is improved by acquiring correct opinions and eventually knowledge on everything humans are capable of knowing. The more knowledge the soul acquires, the more it is able to fulfill the commandment to love God. The biggest stumbling block to love of God is the belief that the only way to remain true to the Bible is to interpret it literally. The result of literal interpretation is a material conception of God, which, in Maimonides' opinion, amounts to idolatry.
Maimonides wrote and spoke in Arabic in Cordoba, Spain when the Moors ruled most of Spain. During that period, the Moors had a great respect for science and education. Many Jews of that period were treated with great respect by the Moors and the two religions coexisted in friendship. Many of the stars are named in Arabic because, unlike Christian Europe, there was a great respect for science and observation in the Muslim community. The downfall of the Jews in Spain came after the Christian conquests of the Moors. We all know what happened to the Jews and the Moors in a Christian dominated Spain.
It took 1,000 years of Christian wars between themselves, the Muslims, and the Jews, and the deaths of tens of millions of people to finally turn the European community into a civilized secular society. And since 1945, the European community has become a responsible secular community. It is only in the United States that the last remnants of the fundamentalist Christian soldiers have had great influence. And they have been effective politically because of the corruption of the Republican Party and the sheer gutlessness of the corporate owned media. It is a shame that Christiana Amanpour did not comment about the insanity and danger of these Christian fundamentalists in America.