, 38 tweets, 14 min read Read on Twitter
Okay, I have a rant that I have to get out of the way so I can focus. I've been reading up lately on two intertwined subjects, both because they fascinate me and because I think progressive spiritual communities need to grapple with them.
Those two subjects are religious abuse and toxic religious communities, and the flipside, healthy religious communities.

And, at least in the progressive spiritual communities I interact with (my own Jewish community and our neighboring Methodist & Unitarian communities)...
...there's a certain serene disengagement from the subject (at least as far as I've seen). We tend to assume that as long as we're nice and accepting and open-minded and egalitarian, things will just... be okay.
And that's probably true under some circumstances. But we've got people coming in who are coming from backgrounds of religious abuse and authoritarian Christianity, and we need to understand it better just for their sake so that in welcoming them we don't inadvertently harm.
And I think it's also useful to understand how communities get that way so we can ensure we're not replicating those conditions.
So, last week I asked for recommendations for people who talk about religious abuse here on Twitter, and I also got some book recommendations that I'm working my way through.

Going to talk about all of that when I've read more because there are some interesting insights.
But anyway, all of this is context.

Now for the rant I have to get out of the way.
When one looks for writing on what *healthy* religious community looks like, one appears to be pretty much stuck with Christian authors. That's problematic in itself, but that of course doesn't mean members of other traditions can't learn from it. Some principles are universal.
So one of the thinkers on both religious abuse and characteristics of healthy religious community that was recommended to me was @johnpavlovitz. I started reading "A Bigger Table," which promises a vision of "messy, authentic, and hopefully spiritual community." Splendid.
@johnpavlovitz I started reading, and found it a perfect example of how progressive pastors who don't, in reexamining their faith, apply that reexamination to its relationship to Judaism and end up continuing to send anti-Jewish hatred flowing from the pulpit to the pew.
@johnpavlovitz And I'm trying to get this out of the way now because it's been a particularly nasty couple of weeks, especially on Twitter, to be Jewish and I would actually prefer to talk about something else for a while.

But this isn't going to get out of my brain until I talk about it.
@johnpavlovitz For a book that's ostensibly about being welcoming, "A Bigger Table" repeatedly slaps Jewish readers in the face, because it doesn't both reexamining toxic Christianity's positioning of Judaism as the problem Jesus came to solve.
@johnpavlovitz So before I get into what's so ugly about the way Pavlovitz talks about Judaism, if you aren't already familiar with the problem of Christian use of the term (both in that it's usually polemical and in that it's usually historically incorrect) here's some quick context.
@johnpavlovitz You're going to have to read this yourself--I've already talked about it ad nauseum and I'm not going to bother reiterating itself.

Start here:
@johnpavlovitz And continue here--

and heh, as I look at it, the rabbi is actually responding to John Pavlovitz in this tweet, and he doesn't look like he responds, so, yeah, so much for caring about compassion and a bigger table.

@johnpavlovitz Anyway, those are both really great threads for context.

On to what I'm actually talking about.

So I'm reading the book and I get, I dunno, 25 or so pages in and get this.
@johnpavlovitz So, just to be clear, he's positioning the Pharisees--the center of resistance to a brutal empire that was occupying Judea and treating Jews the way brutal colonizers tend to treat the inhabitants of the lands they seize--to modern white American evangelicals.
@johnpavlovitz That's some "antifascists are the REAL fascists"-level logic twisting.

I mean, everything about it is ahistorical, too. But cool. Cool.
@johnpavlovitz I grit my teeth and move on. And then I come to this.

Equating Pharisees and Sadducees, check.

And oh, boy, they're "unpleasant and unlovable."

(Prior to this there was actually another reference to Jews, but I'll come back to that one.)
@johnpavlovitz The early church, which almost immediately moved its center of activity to Rome, where Jews were a tiny, powerless, and (after the destruction of the 2nd Temple) predominantly enslaved minority somehow equal to the Roman Empire itself in their ability to oppress Christians.
@johnpavlovitz The debate was about whether or not Gentiles needed to *convert to Judaism* before becoming Christian, because early Jewish Christians were worried if they didn't, they might be separated from Jewish Christians in a revived Davidic kingdom.
@johnpavlovitz Like, look, there were cogent arguments on both sides and I don't have a horse in that particular race, obvi, and I'm not going to go into the details tonight, but this wasn't Paul standing up to a "powerful Jewish faction" on behalf of the Gentiles.
@johnpavlovitz This was a debate over *the most compassionate and inclusive way* to induct Gentile converts to Christianity.
@johnpavlovitz Oh boy, I don't even know where to start with this.

It has *never* been Jewish theology that Gentiles are outside divine blessing or love. There was literally a *court of the Gentiles* in the Temple, and Gentiles were welcome to worship with Jews without converting.
@johnpavlovitz Judaism isn't exclusivist like Christianity. It doesn't hold that it's the only path to a good relationship with the divine, that anyone outside it is outside divine approval, or anything of the sort. It's held that it's *one way of relating,* for a specific family's descendents.
@johnpavlovitz *sigh*

"Contaminated" like Ephraim and Manasseh, with their Egyptian mother? Like Isaac with his convert parents? Like Jacob with his convert mother? Like the founders of the 12 tribes, with their convert moms?

Like Moses's kids?
@johnpavlovitz Ah yes, the problem with Paul was that he was Jewish, and not that he was, as he himself outlines, hired muscle for the Roman-puppet High Priest.
@johnpavlovitz Like so many progressive Christians writing about being more inclusive, he can't seem to help positioning Judaism as the problem Jesus came to solve.

And the way he talks about modern-day Jews is... well, the best I can say about it is he only does it twice.
@johnpavlovitz Instance #1:

It's SOOOOO HARD being the Christian spouse of a Jew.
@johnpavlovitz (It's not that this anecdote is automatically a problem in itself, but it IS a problem when it represents 50% of modern Jewishness in Pavlovitz's world.)
@johnpavlovitz And here's the other one.

Buddy, Reform Judaism--you know, the branch representing *the majority of practicing American Jews*--has been WAY ahead of pretty much every major type of Christianity in LGBT inclusion, but keep feeling good that you managed to catch up w the Orthodox
@johnpavlovitz Like, last I checked (admittedly, 2-3 years ago), the only major Christian denomination that got mentioned as having official guidelines for trans inclusion comparable to the Reform movement's was the Unitarians.

Who are Unitarian, not Christian.
@johnpavlovitz Like, I'm sure Pavlovitz doesn't intend to perpetuate bigoted stereotypes about Jews and Judaism--both 2nd Temple and modern--but he doesn't seem, for all his talk of inclusivity, to have bothered to research to make sure he wasn't perpetuating hate against marginalized religions
@johnpavlovitz Which, from my perspective, makes his table pretty small.
@johnpavlovitz And this guy is a leader in making Christianity less toxic?

Heaven fucking help us.
@johnpavlovitz Anyway, "progressive" Christian takes on how to make Christian communities less toxic have thus far seemed concerned only with making them less toxic to participants, not to the rest of world.
@johnpavlovitz (Side note on this: the Jews of Jesus's time did hate Samaritans, and vice versa. But it was the *religious and cultural practices* of the Samaritans they saw as corrupted by pagan influence.

Not, y'know, their blood.
@johnpavlovitz As far as I can tell, the idea that any ancestry, any *drop of blood* from another people, independent of culture and how you're raised, no matter how distant, makes you somehow impure is an idea originating with European Christians.
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