continued from here Part III
The book opens with a variety of thoughts on holy ignorance that were used as a setting but were not developed. So I come back to them last. Roy points out the role of philology, history, and logic and how they have been jettisoned in the age of holy ignorance. He mentioned his exasperation that people would listen to people pontificating pre-Bacon ideas. What happened to the need for empiricism, method, and drawing logical inference?
(The historian of the Evangelical movements, George Marsden placed the use of Baconian method as the dividing line between Fundamentalists and Evangelicals, but noted that the latter stopped there without any further theory). Roy notes how event he use of Baconian method has slipped. One should note all the rabbis in recent years who question not just science, but political science, sociology, history, and economics. They say scholars are all just opinion without method (and not because they read Gadamer). They get up and give sermons on things of which they know little and create vague undefined ideas or they just assume that everything in the world is an ideological sermon. Another means of this is to turn everything into metaphor or religious symbol in which their “system” overrides method.
Roy finds a string desire in the new religion to kill the old man. He also discovers a greater sense that man is a tabula rasa and religious groups will fill in the child or convert with everything he needs to know. There is less of an acknowledgement of tradtion and upbringing.Religion proclaims itself above culture and cannot be touched by the historian or anthropologist.
How does this new religion relate to other symbolic systems? Iron wall? Can we interrupt table tennis with halleluiah- I have been saved? What should we make of it?
His point is that there has been no secular eradication of religion. Rather, religion has given up on culture and now appears as pure religion.
We used to have a Jewish atheist or intellectual believer as opposite forms of accommodation with culture.
New trend is to see secular culture as pagan not secular. Therefore the space of accommodation disappears. If one is an atheist then one is more likely to give up one’s Judaism and if one is religious there is less of a desire for synthesis.
Now religious purity based on a religious marker that can be tailored for the needs of the market.
Religion now focuses on same things as secular society- self-affirmation, lifestyle, fulfillment, and happiness.
This process of deculturation removes original context and original language leading to pop culture evangelical and pop culture orthodoxy.
Deculturation undoes Thomist and Maimonidean synthesis of religion and culture.
In Roy’s perspective, converts (and BT’s) are nomads without cultural pressures.
One of his big conclusions is that he thinks that Talal Asad is wrong- the market standardizes and that today the standard is a conversion to relgion.
For Roy, religion is only a religion when it disassociates from culture. Most Romans and medievals treated worship was an act of practice not of belief. This is also true for the Jewish communities.(28)
He give an interesting example of Halloween. In prior decades the candy giving was treated as “profane” as having no value and no redeemable holiness but also no unholiness. Now, he see a greater trend to considering it as “pagan” and needing to be shunned.
In sum, he sees a shift from light to the word and cultural mission to accomplish to a group sense of the purity of insiders and the infidelity and pagan outsiders.
As a side note, the modern Religious Zionist Rabbi Chaim Navon has an article in todays’ Haaretz claiming that the secular have also become more extreme. As I went to sleep last night, my FB feed was quickly becoming filled with dozens of responses showing that decades ago the Zionists were proudly working on Yom Kippur as atheists and there was soft-core European style on Israeli TV, yet the religious Zionists thought the goal was to have a synthesis.