The principles that rule this blog

Principles that will govern my thoughts as I express them here (from my opening statement):

  • Freedom of the individual should be as total as possible, limited only by the fact that nobody should be free to cause physical injury to another, or to deprive another person of his freedoms.
  • Government is necessary primarily to provide those services that private enterprise won't, or won't at a price that people can afford.
  • No person has a right to have his own beliefs on religious, moral, political, or other controversial issues imposed on others who do not share those beliefs.

I believe that Abraham Lincoln expressed it very well:

“The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do, at all, or cannot
so well do, for themselves — in their separate, individual capacities.”

Comments will be invited, and I will attempt to reply to any comments that are offered in a serious and non-abusive manner. However, I will not tolerate abusive or profane language (my reasoning is that this is my blog, and so I can control it; I wouldn't interfere with your using such language on your own!)

If anyone finds an opinion that I express to be contrary to my principles, they are welcome to point this out. I hope that I can make a rational case for my comments. Because, in fact, one label I'll happily accept is rationalist.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

On proselytization

This past Tuesday, my wife and I were at a local Panera, where I had a pastry and some tea and she had whatever she wanted. Next to us was a table where a fairly young African-American man took a seat, and at one point, we were engaged in a conversation. When my wife asked if he was studying, and what subjects, he mentioned he had gotten a degree in rhetoric and was now studying theology, so I asked if he was planning to become a preacher, which seemed to be the only thing that those two might mean career-wise; he said he was already a preacher. And further along in the conversation, he gave us both cards from the church where he preaches, though he indicated it was mainly a young adult program, but we were invited. At a later point in the discussion, I told him he wasn't likely to see me (my wife was away at the moment), because I was Jewish. At this juncture, the conversation turned to my belief that he'll never convince me that I'm wrong, and I'm sure I could not convince him. He asked me why I was so sure, and I cited a Biblical passage (Isaiah, chapter 2), which to me proves that Jesus could not be the Messiah. (When the Messiah comes, according to Isaiah, there will be a period of total peace; this has not happened, and in fact more wars have been fought in Jesus' name than in just about anyone else's.) He suggested that perhaps the era of peace will be initiated on the second coming, and I remarked that nowhere in the Bible does it prophesy that the Messiah will come, go, and then come again. That seemed to stop him — the conversation turned to other directions.

I think that anybody needs to believe what seems right to him. If you read the 95th Psalm, it clearly says that God tries to talk to us, and we should listen to him. I believe we perceive God's speaking to us as an internal voice, and we must listen to what He tells us — but, of course, we cannot really tell for certain what is God's message to us and what we are just thinking on our own. So nobocy can convince me, and I don't try to convince anyone else, to change religion. I'll tell someone what I believe, if asked. but that is as far as I will go.

This preacher was not really hostile in his attitude; the conversation was cordial. But it really does not seem right for anyone to proselytize, for the reasons I've given.

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