Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg

And in the Big News today from a Faith Perspective, there’s a Big Jewish Festival coming up. Happy Something-or-other everyone. So let us celebrate life, birds, trees, viruses. No, not viruses.

6 thoughts on “Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg

  1. On this day.

    Reverend Roy Jenkins – Baptist Minister in Cardiff
    Thursday, 28 May, 2009
    Rating 5 out of 5 (Extraordinarily platitudinous)

    The boss of the Nationwide isn’t happy. He says it’s unfair that prudent financial organisations have to bail out the reckless. It’s tough, but then losing jobs can be tougher. Especially if it makes you feel hopeless and useless, a has been, a waste of space, a worthless, pointless, degenerate, non-person. I know what you’re thinking, it’s all so unfair. Fortunately, it doesn’t bother me that much because I’m all right. I mean we’ll always need Baptist ministers – right? The thought of a world without Baptist ministers is surely too terrible to contemplate.

    To the disabled, the injured, the mentally ill, the unemployed, the bereaved, I say this: life’s unfair, get over it. The Invisible Magic Friend has just picked you out to have a rotten life. Tough luck, but the very fact that people try to help you in your suffering just goes to prove, with devastating and inevitable logic, the existence of an Invisible Magic Friend who loves you all. You can take comfort from Christianity, which doesn’t actually solve anything or provide any answers. Christianity has never even tried to explain anything. Its 2,000 years of endless splits over finer details of abstruse theology has resulted in no conclusions whatsoever. What Christianity does have is Jesus, who suffered more than you or anyone else has ever done, and it was all your fault for sinning.

    There, doesn’t that make you feel better.


  2. Off at a tangent but on the topic of yet another religious holiday…

    I remember my Dad telling me once about his time in Italy during the war. Apparently (and this may come as a shock to some of you), off duty soldiers and those who were rotated off the front lines liked to have a drink occasionally. There was an order put out in his unit that regular drinking should not be permitted but celebrations of ‘special events’ would be tolerated. As they were in Italy, there was plenty of access to Catholic calendars and so they could say “Oh look! today is Saint XXX of YYY’s day” as a reason — an excuse for every single day of the year !

    It was his experiences in Italy, seeing the wealth of the church and the poverty of the ordinary people, plus the way the priests ‘preyed’ upon their hospitality when food wasn’t in plentiful supply that turned him against organised religions.


  3. “This lockdown is a fantastic opportunity for the ultra-pious like me to tell those especially with little-to-no-piety that they should be as ultra-pious as I am.”


  4. Big Jewish Festivals seem to come round with great frequency. Or maybe it’s just that Jewish speakers get invited on TftD when a BJF is approaching. Maybe the TftD producers have a calendar with all the BJFs marked in red. Maybe the Big Christian Festivals are marked in blue, the Big Muslim Festivals in green, and so on. There must be some logic to it all.

    Interesting that many of the BJFs derive from the Israelites’ extended period of quarantine in Egypt and their much delayed journey home, neither of which actually happened. But then most of the BCFs derive from supposed events that never actually took place. If you add in all the saints’ days (usually several saints per day), you could spend pretty well every waking minute of your life celebrating events that never happened. If you’re really devout you might be able to get away with never doing any work at all. I can think of several religious sects where this is the case.


  5. I agree entirely with Jonathan’s closing sentence – “We too must use our renewed freedom to listen and shape a more attentive, appreciative and compassionate reality”. But Jonathan, you spend the rest of your talk well removed from reality.
    It’s amazing the things you take for granted if they are drummed into you from birth isn’t it? “When we reimagine ourselves at Mount Sinai listening to gods voice and receiving the ten commandments” is just that, imagination – it never happened. And “God speaks to all of us personally through all life…life’s sacred spirit dwells in all things. The challenge is to listen.” What on earth is a scared spirit? Just words made up to pretend there is something other than the electrical and biochemical processes that are life.
    Years ago I went on a trip to Fothergill Island on Lake Kariba. It was fabulous with elephants, buffalo and antelope. The leaflet they gave us on arrival said “We have found God on Fothergill Island.” I remember sending a postcard home saying “We searched around the island but the best I could do was find a glint off a tap in the bathroom”.
    I think I was paraphrasing Spike Milligan in Adolf Hitler: My Part In His Downfall where on arrival at Victoria Station to enter the army he reports “they gave me a travel warrant, a white feather and a picture of Hitler marked ‘This is your enemy.’ I searched every compartment, but he wasn’t on the train”. Now that is a good story but I suspect it isn’t true. The idea of having only 10 rules, told to your ancestors on a mountain by a mythical entity is a good story, but unlike you, I suspect it isn’t true either.


  6. Well said above. I’d only add that Wittenberg’s belief in the sacredness of life is equally as uninformed as his apparent acceptance of tall tales.
    We’ve known for ages that ‘life’ involves much more than was imagined by ancient ‘holy’ writers.
    If all life were really so sacred, Mittelberg should stop breathing, eating, digesting, moving, etc because he is killing all the time. No wonder he ignores that & reverts to his old books.


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