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#1 of 12 Old 08-05-2002, 03:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi,
From another thread, and lots of other threads, it seems like we could benefit with a discussion on what sort of language we should use when we're discussing these sensitive topics close to people's hearts.

People have different points of view about proselytizing, and to some certain language may be "this is how I believe" and to someone else, it may be, "you're wrong if you don't believe it too." I was wondering if we can kind of figure out where the line is generally.

For example, in my church, people can do what's called "bearing testimony", which I think is also called "witnessing" in other groups. This can be in more formal or less formal settings, but basically people testify of their own spiritual experiences with God and how they came to that truth for themselves. The implication often is that the hearer can also "find that truth" for him/herself, although that may only be implicit and not spoken outright. But if I say "I believe in Jesus Christ because the Holy Spirit witnessed to me of this truth" I would consider that a testimony, whereas a statement of what I believe might be "I believe in Jesus Christ."

What is the line for people? I'm really curious. And I think the discussion could benefit everyone.
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#2 of 12 Old 08-05-2002, 09:27 PM
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Super thread Bekka!

My thoughts are, when I share my feelings and thoughts of my faith, ,it's just that, sharing. I do not try to convert others or MAKE them believe something I believe. I don't have time. I am to busy working on my own faith to worry about someone else's. I even have a hard time believing their is only ONE true religion, who knows for certain? We won't know until the end anyway(for sure anyway). I just have to stay on MY path, and worry about me(regarding spirituality).

So that is my take on it.

I don't think it is prolythesizing unless someone flat out points at someone and says your wrong, and come, I have the only truth.


Jesus said, "The kingdom of God is within you and all around you. It is not within buildings of wood or stone. Split a piece of wood and you will find me. Look beneath a stone and I am there."

So, the truth isn't JUST in the Torah, or the Bible, or the Qu'ran, I think if we just keep our eyes open, we'll find it.
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#3 of 12 Old 08-06-2002, 12:40 AM
 
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This is a really big point in a lot of discussions I find myself in IRL. Faith is in our hearts; it touches our souls; it is the most absolutely intimate thing we have. When others treat it carelessly, it hurts, and makes angry, and saddens, and chases away.

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I don't think it is prolythesizing unless someone flat out points at someone and says your wrong, and come, I have the only truth.
Worse still is "you're wrong, and I have the only truth, so go."

I think proselytizing is something I can respect--but I think it can be done with much more tact and grace than we often handle "comparative religion" conversations. Ideally, I think it should be like a really, really good persuasive speech.

I really do believe that our Creator hears those who pray and that faith is of Him. Lately, I have tried to make it more clear to loved ones what I do and don't believe--my best friend asked me if "God bless you" is OK when we sneeze (it is). This goes to show you that we have a long way to go to understanding one another...: I think that "truth" and "fact" are tricky words--especially for truths and facts that cannot be "proven" (at least in this life). I think belief and faith and other such words suit the discussion much better. Claiming to have the truth can imply that others have falsehood. I wouldn't want to go and do that.
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#4 of 12 Old 08-06-2002, 12:57 AM
 
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I have a tremendous amount of curiosity about other people's faiths, spirituality and religions. I've always been a student of comparative religion, even though I didn't go to church growing up. There's nothing I enjoy more than talking about spirituality with a group of open-minded people from different backgrounds. As the cliche' goes--we're all climbing the same mountain, just using different donkeys to get to the top. And when someone tells me *their* donkey is the *only* donkey that can get to the top, it really has no impact on me, because I know better...
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#5 of 12 Old 08-06-2002, 02:19 AM
 
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ladylee, mee, too, also into "comparative religions," though comparing isn't what I do. I just like to learn. That's why I'm often on this board. Though I do wish other groups were more thoroughly represented, like Buddhists or Hindus or Muslims (and I know you're there, UmmNuh, just wish you had company ... more voices, more perspective, ya' know?)

As a side note, the number of proselytizers/missionaries on the streets of NYC is really crazy sometimes, and with the summer months "Jews for Jesus" and other groups have their big "push" here, with the specific aim to convert Jews to Christianity. So it's kind of annoying to be regularly accosted on the street. My family is obviously CJ (committed Jews, in J4J-speak) in a very obvious and visual way. Even though we dress very differently than most religious Jews people are used to seeing in America, I'm still not sure why they insist on approaching us. We are obviously committed, and they're supposed to work on UJ's, meaning uncommitted Jews. Perhaps our different dress (think: intensely hippie with head coverings, as opposed to the standard basic black) confuses their expectations. Don't know.

What I find disturbing, though, is they never say "you're wrong." They say, "You're so right, do this and be a better Jew." Which is dishonest, thankyouverymuch. Doing their "this" would make a person a Christian.

So that's my main quibble about "spreading the news," just be honest and open about motives.

(I actually thought I'd started a thread about the concept of proselytizing, but I hit "post reply" instead of "new thread," I guess, because it's buried in another thread. Hopefully it can be moved ...)

Enough ranting.

- Amy
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#6 of 12 Old 08-08-2002, 08:39 PM
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I'd like to go to a proselytization thread... but since I cant' find it, I'll post here....

I generally turn off when people try to sell their religion to me, and I know I've been guilty of that in my youth. I would rather hear from people's hearts what things about their faith, beliefs, whatever, inspires them or is valuable to them. I do better when I speak from my own heart and when I can listen to others do so as well.

But proselytizing... ick. I have friends who are Messianics (not J4J whackos) and they don't do that. But when I visit their synagogues I have to grit my teeth because my friends who don't proselytize are in the minority (probably why they're still friends). And most of their approach to Judaism is to me, skewed at best. I just give them space to work on it and go happily back to my own beit-knesset where I feel at home and free.

Maybe proselytizing is just a sore spot with me because I am a geyr and I know what it's like to be on either side of that type of thing.
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#7 of 12 Old 08-15-2002, 11:44 AM
 
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good subject. Language can be tricky IRL but it gets even more so here since all we have are words to convey our beliefs. We are not given the opportunity to show our faith without words (which is actually more how dh and I operate IRL) so we must resort to language if we are to share our faith on these boards.

I now know that some folks on this thread think that J4J are "whackos". Strong language to convey a distaste for a certain religious sect. I understand the vehemence. Most honest people would admit to some sort of prejudice. I've got them just as some of you do too as conveyed here. And it's this gosh darn language that tends to divide us. There are times when my fervor for my faith clouds my better judgment and words that alienate and compartmentalize people come flying out. For this I am sorry. I felt my own cringe at the term 'whacko' since I could be considered such b/c of my beliefs. Now anyone here has the total right to believe others are whacko. That's fine. It just proves the point of the original question of what kind of language to use when discussing matters close to our hearts.

peace, moondancer who is removing the log in her own eye
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#8 of 12 Old 08-15-2002, 11:52 AM
 
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Quote:
... by moondancer

... I now know that some folks on this thread think that J4J are "whackos". Strong language to convey a distaste for a certain religious sect. I understand the vehemence. Most honest people would admit to some sort of prejudice. I've got them just as some of you do too as conveyed here. And it's this gosh darn language that tends to divide us. There are times when my fervor for my faith clouds my better judgment and words that alienate and compartmentalize people come flying out. For this I am sorry. I felt my own cringe at the term 'whacko' since I could be considered such b/c of my beliefs. Now anyone here has the total right to believe others are whacko. That's fine. It just proves the point of the original question of what kind of language to use when discussing matters close to our hearts. ...
m'd, I'm the one who mentioned J4J and did not use the term. I did use the term "dishonest." And "annoying."

If it's elsewhere in the thread, then I missed something & will reread.

- Amy
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#9 of 12 Old 08-15-2002, 02:02 PM
 
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No amy it wasn't you--it was Dov referring to J4J actually.

and please don't think I am being a PC police. I am just verbally processing an issue that was brought to our attention and I saw first hand how language usage...as in whacko....tends to divide in sensitive subjects such as faith and beliefs. As I was calling out the behavior I was admitting my own fault in this. I can't promise I won't ever fall into this again (I'm human) but I am a bit more sensitive now to a word used in a religious context and how it feels. I'm not part of J4J but you could insert your own sect in the blank....christian whacko, radical whacko, AP whacko, pierced-nose whacko, pro-life whacko, hippie whacko, homeschooling whacko, non-vaxed whacko, get the picture?

that's all.

peace, moondancer who happens to be a whacko!
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#10 of 12 Old 08-16-2002, 03:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by moondancer
No amy it wasn't you--it was Dov referring to J4J actually.
Point taken. I should not have employed the term, just left it as J4J.

I should have instead stated more clearly that I feel much more comfortable with people who express their views and ground them to their own situation; speaking from their heart-space instead of pushing or preaching to me about their faith, values, what have you. (I'm guilty of this myself at times... just look at some of my passionate posts; I do need to be more conscientious).

Amy mentioned J4J and that struck a chord because I've had horrible experiences with them as well as some Messianics. I'm very aware of the implications of language especially given my own religious backround, having converted and having had to deal with people trying to force me to change my mind (as if it made any sense to do so). But, the Messianics that are my friends don't push, sell, preach or proselytize. They express themselves to me and live what they believe in and, allow me to be free to do the same. I wanted to say that they are good examples of "conservative" people who are fair-minded and appropriate, or using language well.

That's what I was trying to say and I got reckless and used "whacko." Please accept my apology and willingness to be more aware of my own use of language.
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#11 of 12 Old 08-16-2002, 07:01 PM
 
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Hi Dov,

I'll accept the apology on behalf of whackos everywhere.

I tend to use this word myself. It's just that my eyes were opened as to how dismissive it is when attached to other words as in J4J. I haven't had any dealings with the group myself.

I hope my posts didn't come across as angry or offended. I completely agree that I prefer people to share their faith in living it out rather than condemning or brow beating.


peace, moondancer whose college roommate converted from Judaism to Christianity without the help of J4J.
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#12 of 12 Old 08-16-2002, 08:51 PM
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Thanks, moondancer. you just had a good "awareness raiser" for me and I'm appreciative of that.

I converted the other direction.... I frequently seem to swim against the tide.

I thought of another way to put what I think I was trying to say, I prefer to hear people's experiences, how their faith has inspired or influenced or shaped them. I have had the best conversations with people outside my own religious practice and been inspired by them without having to adopt their religion or diminish my own when they've just shared their own truth for themselves and not tried to preach it to me. In terms of unthreatening language, that's the kind of thing I understand as productive. Share your own truth and experience and not preach it. It's easier to hear that way anyway and it doesn't threaten while still permitting the person speaking to express themselves fully and truthfully.

I hope that enhances what I was originally trying to nail down earlier, without much precision and a language blunder.

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