The Ex-Big Chief Rabbi, Lord Jonathan Sacks, Baron Aldgate

And in the Big News today from a Faith Perspective, it’s NOT a Big Jewish Festival Today. Happy St Valentine’s Day everybody!

And also in the Big News today from a Faith Perspective, it’s the year of my golden wedding anniversary. Yes, it’s 50 years since we set off on life together as a young couple. I had no idea that I would one day be the Ex-Big Chief Rabbi, broadcasting to the nation as I am, and that my wife would be wife to the Ex-Big Chief Rabbi.

The secret is: you need to be in love.

Fortunately, there’s nothing else in the news today worth commenting on.

8 thoughts on “The Ex-Big Chief Rabbi, Lord Jonathan Sacks, Baron Aldgate

  1. I could only listen to the first twenty seconds of this TftD. Thats all it took to see a real problem. The problem which has blighted humanity for our entire existence, continues to do so today and sadly will continue to do so. And it was starkly revealed when talking about a trivial and frivolous issue … Valentines Day.

    “Its not a jewish day.” “Its a lovely day …. just not ours.”

    The problem of course comes from the prejudices bourne of religious differences. The issue picked by Sachs today is seemingly a trivial one but of course other differences between religious factions, many of which in reality are actually ridiculously trivial, lift the safety catch off hair trigger sensitivities.

    “Its not a jewish day.” “Its a lovely day …. just not ours.” When the pious make such assertions about other issues, say prohibiting cartoons of a particular kind, or condemning homosexuality as sin, or prohibition of contraception, or prohibition meat not ritually slaughtered, real trouble in the here and now is going to kick off and often does so with disastrous consequences.

    “Its not a jewish day.” “Its a lovely day …. just not ours.” Such comments may seem trivial but they are not harmless. Such comments reveal deep set ”them and us” rifts. Rifts that are often serious differentiators leading to political, economic, legislative and physically forceful subjugation of the them. The them … the sinners, the heretics, the traitors, the apostates. And meanwhile the us faction enforce political, economic, legislative advantages for the us. The us … the true believers in the one and only real god, the adherents of the one and only true religion.

    The problem is of course that the pious cannot really accept or even tolerate real secularism where everyone is equal regardless of creed, sex, sexuality, ethnicity, colour, age, nationality, language, social standing, wealth, heritage, profession, marital status and political affiliation.

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  2. I like this amusingly cynical take on the whole thing.
    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2008/feb/11/charliebrooker.relationships

    The thing is Rob, nobody should care if Jews want to celebrate Valentine’s day if they want to. Presumably Valentine was originally a Catholic saint, do you need to be a Catholic to get involved? The problem, as you say, is the excessive sensitivity of those who take their religion far too seriously.

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    1. Exactly. I doubt whether anyone outside the more fervent bits of the RCC or the CofE has celebrated St Valentine’s Day as being the birthday of the made-up St Valentine for centuries. Instead we now have a wholly secular occasion, largely created by those wishing to sell us cards, chocolates and cheap bottles of bubbly, just as they have now colonised Mothering Sunday, Halloween, and to a great extent Easter and Christmas.

      Personally, I’m quite cheered at the thought of people going back to their pagan roots in this way. Sacks should try it some time instead of muttering extracts from Hosea to his missus. Even then he seems to be engaged in cherry-picking: I have just looked up Hosea, and like most of the prophetic books it’s pretty doom-laden. Chapter 2 begins:

      “Say ye unto your brethren, Ammi, and to your sisters, Ruhamah.

      Plead with your mother, plead: for she is not my wife, neither am I her husband: let her therefore put away her whoredoms out of her sight, and her adulteries from between her breasts”. Happy Valentine’s Day indeed!

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  3. The problem is more than just taking religion too seriously. The problem is those that take their religion seriously are compelled to inflict it on everyone else such as those who adhere to different religions and those of no religion at all. And by inflicting I mean really inflicting, not by being a noisy loon preaching on street corners but by exerting political, economic and legislative force often backed up with violence. Some religions seize, hijack and usurp govermental control and then there is real trouble.

    And the pious inflict their ‘needs’ on everyone else in thousands of different ways on a mundame everyday basis. For example I like to eat meat but I want that meat to be humanely killed. But the pious have arranged that I have no way of knowing if the meat I buy or consume in restaurants has been cruelly killed under some meaningless sadistic ritual.

    At least in the UK I can openly criticise religious dogma without the threat of prosection for blasphemy … but only since 2008. But I run the risk of a good kicking or worse by a whipped up hysterical spittle flecked mob of self proclaimed enforcers if I say the wrong thing in certain parts of Luton or Wolverhamton.

    And Free Speech itself, the foundation of democracy, is under very real threat because of the absurd sensitivities of those who are welded to their primitive stupendously crazy religious afflictions.

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    1. The problem is those that take their religion seriously are compelled to inflict it on everyone else such as those who adhere to different religions and those of no religion at all.

      For heaven’s sake Rob. Get a grip. The majority of CofE vicars take their religion seriously, but they’re hardly all compelled to inflict it on everyone else. In fact, most of them don’t seem particularly inclined to inflict it on their own congregations.

      I like to eat meat but I want that meat to be humanely killed. But the pious have arranged that I have no way of knowing if the meat I buy or consume in restaurants has been cruelly killed under some meaningless sadistic ritual.

      Do you live in the UK? If so, that statement is simply untrue.

      But I run the risk of a good kicking or worse by a whipped up hysterical spittle flecked mob of self proclaimed enforcers if I say the wrong thing in certain parts of Luton or Wolverhamton.

      Do you genuinely think this is true? Or is it just another piece of Trumpian propaganda? No-go zones controlled by the mooosleems? Jesus wept.

      And Free Speech itself, the foundation of democracy, is under very real threat because of the absurd sensitivities of those who are welded to their primitive stupendously crazy religious afflictions.

      Free speech is under threat, but hardly because of religions. It is mostly under threat because of an ultra-right-wing policy of intimidating journalists and categorising even plain facts as “false news”.

      …real secularism where everyone is equal regardless of creed, sex, sexuality, ethnicity, colour, age, nationality, language, social standing, wealth, heritage, profession, marital status and political affiliation.

      Real secularism also includes treating religious people with the same tolerance and respect. As long as they’re not harming you or others, why on earth should you care what they believe? It is clear that you don’t like that, and that secularism is as far from your philosophy as it is for the Pope.

      I was in the hospital yesterday, with my seventeen year-old son. He has epilepsy, and has had a series of seizures recently. Unfortunately for him, he also goes into a flat-out panic when someone comes near with a needle. The nurse who was taking his blood sample was an African lady, and when my son started to panic, she put her hands on his chest and chanted some words to him. It turned out that this was a prayer. But I didn’t feel that my (or his) secular rights had been infringed. I didn’t immediately call for her to be replaced, and then disciplined for overstepping the line. Because what she was was a lovely person who just wanted to help him. And it worked, she calmed him down, and got the blood. No doubt she considers that god intervened, and that this was proof of the efficacy of prayer. I couldn’t care less. She got the blood, and my son’s medical treatment can continue.

      Religion, in the hands of the wrong people, can be a very damaging thing. As can politics, and nationalism, and support for a football team. But in the same way that not all football fans are hooligans, not all religious people are ranting lunatics. So quit with the paranoia, quit with the exaggerations, quit with the generalisations, quit with the hate, and quit with the lies.

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  4. The problem is those that take their religion seriously are compelled to inflict it on everyone else such as those who adhere to different religions and those of no religion at all.

    For goodness sake Rob. Get a grip. The majority of CofE vicars take their religion seriously, but they’re hardly all compelled to inflict it on everyone else. In fact, most of them don’t seem particularly inclined to inflict it on their own congregations.

    I like to eat meat but I want that meat to be humanely killed. But the pious have arranged that I have no way of knowing if the meat I buy or consume in restaurants has been cruelly killed under some meaningless sadistic ritual.

    Do you live in the UK? If so, that statement is simply untrue.

    But I run the risk of a good kicking or worse by a whipped up hysterical spittle flecked mob of self proclaimed enforcers if I say the wrong thing in certain parts of Luton or Wolverhamton.

    Do you genuinely think this is true? Or is it just another piece of Trumpian propaganda? No-go zones controlled by the mooosleems? Jesus wept.

    And Free Speech itself, the foundation of democracy, is under very real threat because of the absurd sensitivities of those who are welded to their primitive stupendously crazy religious afflictions.

    Free speech is under threat, but hardly because of religions. It is mostly under threat because of an ultra-right-wing policy of intimidating journalists and categorising even plain facts as “false news”.

    …real secularism where everyone is equal regardless of creed, sex, sexuality, ethnicity, colour, age, nationality, language, social standing, wealth, heritage, profession, marital status and political affiliation.

    Real secularism also includes treating religious people with the same tolerance and respect. As long as they’re not harming you or others, why on earth should you care what they believe? It is clear that you don’t like that, and that secularism is as far from your philosophy as it is for the Pope.

    I was in the hospital yesterday, with my seventeen year-old son. He has epilepsy, and has had a series of seizures recently. Unfortunately for him, he also goes into a flat-out panic when someone comes near with a needle. The nurse who was taking his blood sample was an African lady, and when my son started to panic, she put her hands on his chest and chanted some words to him. It turned out that this was a prayer. But I didn’t feel that my (or his) secular rights had been infringed. I didn’t immediately call for her to be replaced, and then disciplined for overstepping the line. Because what she was was a lovely person who just wanted to help him. And it worked, she calmed him down, and got the blood. No doubt she considers that god intervened, and that this was proof of the efficacy of prayer. I couldn’t care less. She got the blood, and my son’s medical treatment can continue.

    Religion, in the hands of the wrong people, can be a very damaging thing. As can politics, and nationalism, and support for a football team. But in the same way that not all football fans are hooligans, not all religious people are ranting lunatics. So quit with the paranoia, quit with the exaggerations, quit with the generalisations, and quit with the lies.

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  5. “The majority of CofE vicars take their religion seriously, but they’re hardly all compelled to inflict it on everyone else. In fact, most of them don’t seem particularly inclined to inflict it on their own congregations.”

    While that is true to an extent, let us not forget that the CofE can and does wield its influence in more subtle ways – in particular, its heavy presence in the education system, and the bench of bishops in the House of Lords. Also, the way it manages to hijack situations of public mourning and remembrance on a regular basis.

    Like

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