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Warning from Gaza: Extremism Leads to Destruction of Civil Society

A week ago, religious extremists lit the fuse of a new war in the Middle East by launching unconscionable terrorist (that’s redundant) attacks on Israelis and foreigners in Israel. The war those extremists ignited has resulted in massive destruction and suffering in the extremists’ home territory of Gaza.

The Israeli retaliation against Gaza should warn us of the danger of tolerating ideological extremists in our midst. Extremists invite chaos and war. Extremists don’t want the power to stay on, the grocery stores to remain stocked, or the hospitals to remain open. They want suffering and despair and a breakdown of civil order. Chaos liberates the extremists from the constraints of civil life so they may wage war. War gives extremists the opportunity to fulfill their divine calling to wreak death and destruction on their enemies in the names of their gods.

We defenders of civil society and the rule of law thus have an obligation to expose, root out, and shut down extremist groups in our midst. If we let extremists gain power, they will undermine civic institutions. They will sow chaos that shuts down the normal functions of civil institutions. They will weaken our society, and they will take actions that threaten other societies. Eventually the extremists will go too far and provoke a neighboring society or societies to violent self-defense, and then the bombs will fall like rain on the just and the unjust alike. The extremists won’t care whom the bombs kill; they will just revel in the killing as justification for their further extremism.

It’s hard to imagine the United States as Gaza. We are the world’s leading superpower, insulated by oceans and the world’s biggest military and economy against hostile invaders. Gaza is a tiny enclave no bigger than a quarter of Lake County with a blockade-crippled economy that cannot muster any sustained defense, let alone offense, on its own.

But if we Americans allow extremists to expand their influence, if we allow forces who betray our belief in liberty, equality, and the rule of law to gain public office and use their power to lash out at their perceived enemies, those extremists will not restrict themselves to attacks on enemies on our own soil. They will pick fights with foreign rivals and with our own allies. Fewer nations will see us as a friend and asset, and more nations will see us as a threat that must be checked and contained. The extremists will respond to that loss of friends and the concomitant decline in national standing, influence, and economic health (trade deals fall apart, foreign corporations withdraw, talent leaves, boycotts arise…) with shouts of persecution and rally the easily dupable to more rage and violence, which will further drive the cycle of suspicion and withdrawal of support and cooperation. And eventually, the extremists will take some bloody action that will go too far, that will invite our neighbors—maybe extremists and oppressors on the other side just looking for their excuse to pounce, maybe former allies driven to desperate action to preserve global law and order—to take decisive, violent action that will devastate our nation.

As shown by the war Gaza’s Hamas started, extremists invite chaos and war. If we allow extremism to fester, we will lose civil society and descend into destruction and death. We can only keep our Republic if we keep extremists out of power.

51 Comments

  1. larry kurtz 2023-10-14

    Political extremism, gun violence and the wounds of colonialism — some of the nation’s most pressing concerns were writ large inside a rural courthouse in Northern New Mexico on Friday. In response to a question from Martinez’s lawyer, Peixinho denied the “weird vibe” had anything to do with his MAGA hat.

    https://www.santafenewmexican.com/news/local_news/judge-orders-o-ate-protest-shooter-stay-jailed-da-to-seek-hate-crime-enhancement/article_02d26418-66cb-11ee-b2eb-af428b429164.html

  2. Eve Fisher 2023-10-14

    Sadly, the extremists are already here – trying to disable our government, destroy our public functions, get rid of our public schools, libraries, etc. – all around us, in the search for power and chaos where they can get more publicity and more power.

  3. jkl 2023-10-14

    Definitely a sad situation for so many innocent civilians on both sides. I wonder once Israel occupies the north half of Gaza if they will ever leave.

  4. larry kurtz 2023-10-14

    BLM-Wyoming Rock Springs Field Office manager Kimberlee Foster said her staffers are being subjected to anti-government threats and menacing remarks some of which appeared in the Cowboy State Daily, a mouthpiece of the far white wing of the Republican Party. Trump adherent, Harriet Hageman, Wyoming’s lone US House member is fanning the wildfire and calling for “wiping out” the deep state by targeting federal workers.

  5. cibvet 2023-10-14

    The Palestinian people are considered useless pawns who pay the price of Israelis power and Hamas chaos. They are helpless to move. It is much the same in SD as many are forced to eat the sh*t sandwich handed down by power hungry, regressive conservatives. If one can afford to move, a much better life exists in progressive states. Withhold the political welfare from blue states, and let SD wither away. Being unable to draw their commodity allotment of gravy and taters, all will leave and the grassland will return.

  6. grudznick 2023-10-14

    How do we stop extremism from festering, Mr. H? You have much extremism here on this blogging place. Or do you only refer to the insaner trumpy extremism and not libbie-ism and out-of-state name-callers? It seems you have bested yourownself in the debates on this one blogging.

  7. larry kurtz 2023-10-14

    In my home state rapturing the bone crackers caucus would be a good first step since they’re the extremists spewing the venom.

  8. larry kurtz 2023-10-14

    In light of events in the Levant it’s difficult to imagine a worse US President than Harry Truman.

  9. Richard Schriever 2023-10-14

    The creation of the state of Israel in 1947-48 was simply a more palatable way for Europe to get rid of its Jewish “problem” than the methods the Nazis and Stalin employed. Israel was modeled after US Reservations systems, with the reservation was already occupied by other folks. The entire nation of Israel is geographically the same size as Los Angeles County, with a similar sized population as well. A good way to understand the whole conflict is as a hyper-militarized/weaponized turf war between two urban gangs, with the “police” supporting both sides.

  10. sx123 2023-10-14

    News outlets thrive on extremism.

    Maybe the world was better when we just fought with sticks ‘n stones?

  11. larry kurtz 2023-10-14

    Thanks, Mr. Schriever, and yes there
    is a straight line from the Levant to Wounded Knee especially now that evidence in New Mexico has pushed human habitation in North America. That the establishment SDGOP wants to blame victims is hardly a new phenomenon.

  12. e platypus onion 2023-10-14

    Maybe the world was better when we just fought with sticks ‘n stones?

    Weren’t there women and children back then, as well? Religion is getting to be a bigger problem than guns when it comes to violence against others.

  13. larry kurtz 2023-10-14

    In Europe and America there’s a growing feeling of hysteria
    Conditioned to respond to all the threats
    In the rhetorical speeches of the Soviets
    Mister Krushchev said, “We will bury you”
    I don’t subscribe to this point of view
    It’d be such an ignorant thing to do
    If the Russians love their children too
    How can I save my little boy from Oppenheimer’s deadly toy?
    There is no monopoly on common sense
    On either side of the political fence
    We share the same biology, regardless of ideology
    Believe me when I say to you
    I hope the Russians love their children too
    There is no historical precedent
    To put the words in the mouth of the president?
    There’s no such thing as a winnable war
    It’s a lie we don’t believe anymore
    Mister Reagan says, “We will protect you”
    I don’t subscribe to this point of view
    Believe me when I say to you
    I hope the Russians love their children too
    We share the same biology, regardless of ideology
    But what might save us, me and you
    Is if the Russians love their children too.

  14. grudznick 2023-10-14

    How was the sundance, Lar?

  15. larry kurtz 2023-10-14

    Urge Uncle Joe to release Leonard Peltier.

  16. grudznick 2023-10-14

    Consider the urging as ongoing, Lar, however Mr. Peltier is a murderer, and an ugly fellow at that. He will probably be scheduled for being drawn before the end of the year, if grudznick’s urgings are ignored by Mr. President Uncle Joe Biden.

  17. grudznick 2023-10-14

    Are you young fellows all out at the pub on a Saturday evening? Mr. Dale, up for a stogie at the Steerfish joint? I can have a man drive me up there and I’ll purchase you a beverage and an Arturo Fuente.

  18. DaveFN 2023-10-14

    Fundamentalism, whether political or religious or a combination of both, a good working definition:

    “Fundamentalism is a tendency among certain groups and individuals that is characterized by the application of a strict literal interpretation to scriptures, dogmas, or ideologies, along with a strong belief in the importance of distinguishing one’s ingroup and outgroup, which leads to an emphasis on some conception of “purity”, and a desire to return to a previous ideal from which advocates believe members have strayed. The term is usually used in the context of religion to indicate an unwavering attachment to a set of irreducible beliefs (the “fundamentals”).”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fundamentalism

    There are psychotics who have absolute certainty in their beliefs, and neurotics who keep telling themselves what they want to believe over and over again in order to better believe it, to convince themselves it’s true.

  19. jerry 2023-10-15

    jkl brings a very good assessment of the probable invasion, is this just another land grab for settlers?

  20. jerry 2023-10-15

    Putin, Butina and whatever republcans support them are responsible for Hamas. “Hamas received millions of dollars through cryptocurrency exchange with office in Moscow City – The Wall Street Journal

    The Palestinian Jihad group allegedly received more than $93 million dollars through digital wallets on the eve of its attack on Israel. Hamas also used a similar funding scheme.

    WSJ, citing data from the analytical company Elliptic, states that the attack on Israel was partially financed through the popular crypto exchange Garantex, registered in Moscow.”

    While we are focused on Iran, let’s all remember who supports them all (russia) and why maga republicans are thinking this is a good idea. Whatever happened to the Republican Party and who the hell are these guys now?

  21. e platypus onion 2023-10-15

    The Israeli retaliation against Gaza should warn us of the danger of tolerating ideological extremists in our midst.

    What, no right to life in Israel?

  22. All Mammal 2023-10-15

    -Those who fall asleep in democracy wake up in fascist dictatorship. Stay woke

    I am currently undergoing radicalization due to all this. On my way to going so dang far left, I’ll wind up a true anarchist. Join me. Everything happening is as it was intended from the get. Shut it tf down.

  23. Eve Fisher 2023-10-15

    Yep, Russia has been backing Iran for decades: they’re buddies. And let’s not forget that the former president shared nuclear secrets of a U.S. ally in the Middle East with Russian agents… and everyone else down at Mar-A-Lago. But the MAGA think that’s just fine.

  24. Lars Aanning 2023-10-15

    Sadly interesting how the Palestinian Arabs in Gaza share their neighboring nations’ dismissal of them as a people with the Ostjuden Jews of Poland and Russia, who were largely ignored when Hitler’s Nazi followers judged them to be unworthy of rights as a people of human beings…

  25. grudznick 2023-10-15

    Mr. Mike, who is of course from Iowa, seems to buck the general trend of Democratic fellows being sympathetic to the Palestinians.
    They did a survey: Arturo Fuente

  26. David Bergan 2023-10-15

    “If we allow extremism to fester, we will lose civil society and descend into destruction and death.”

    Hi Cory!

    Your sermon leaves so many unanswered questions!

    How do we curtail extremism without curtailing free speech?

    Are there times when extremism is morally right? (e.g., George Washington and his ilk were more extreme than their loyalist neighbors. Winston Churchill was more extreme than Neville Chamberlain.)

    Is Gaza more extreme than Israel? (i.e., Hamas enforces its conservative interpretation of Islamic law, restricts dissent and media freedom, and persecutes political opponents and minority groups. Israel tolerates other religions better, gives more liberties to women and LGBT.)

    What’s your bright line definition of extremism? Is your denouncing of extremism, extreme?

    Kind regards,
    David

  27. leslie 2023-10-16

    Confused by the rights’ penchant for turning a clearly understood word on it’s head?

    Churchill was a flawed figure in many ways, including his infatuation with colonial policy, his fierce resistance to India’s independence, and some of his personal eccentricities.

    But to understand the vital importance of leadership at any moment, and especially in periods of crisis, as surely was the case in May 1940 (and, in its own way, today), Churchill is the perfect case study of “the right leader at the right time.”

    David Harris is the CEO of American Jewish Committee (AJC).

    An extremist? In what world??

  28. larry kurtz 2023-10-16

    “If you are a MAGA GOP member who has sided with Russia over Ukraine — from Kevin McCarthy to MTG — let’s be clear: you are also now on Team Hamas.” — Rep. Eric Swallwell

  29. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2023-10-16

    David brings us reasonably to first principles, to definitions. I clearly avoided defining extremism, in part to provoke exactly questions like his, but also in part because I’m not convinced I can offer a firm, comprehensive definition.

    Can we agree that Hamas is extremist? They attacked, abducted, and murdered civilians. They reject all compromise and see jihad, holy war, as their highest calling. If there is a spectrum of extremism, or a spectrum between extremism and—hmm, what is the opposite? moderation? Gandhian commitment to non-violence? ever-compromising pragmatism?—some acceptable alternative, Hamas sits at the far end of that spectrum, epitomizing the extremism that imperils all societies, including its own.

    I’d like to take an easy out and say that there is a difference between extreme good and extreme evil. I hesitate, because one can argue that I’d be committing a semantic dodge, hiding again behind arguably hard-to-define words (good in whose eyes? Isn’t Israel as evil in the mind of Hamas as Hamas is in the mind of Israel?) But against relativism, I’ll suggest that we can identify some principles to which commitment represents more good than evil. Extreme commitment to liberty, equality, and the rule of law is not as problematic as extreme commitment to exterminating Jews. Extreme commitment to every nation’s right to exist is less problematic than extreme commitment to wiping out a sovereign nation.

    Hamas staged a surprise attack against largely defenseless Israeli and foreign civilians who were committing no acts of aggression when they were killed and kidnapped. Israel is now attacking Gaza, but they are warning civilians that they are coming. That warning isn’t much, and Israel isn’t giving Gazans much time to run, but they are at least acknowledging the idea that they ought not indiscriminately slaughter women, children, the old, and the sick. Israel has also signed several peace accords with several one-time enemies, including the PLO. Hamas’s charter rejects negotiations and peace deals. Thus, we can fairly conclude that Israel is less extreme than Hamas.

    Churchill took the morally right path in refusing to compromise with aggressor Nazi Germany. But Churchill did not set as his national goal the eradication of the German nation. He set as his goal the preservation of Great Britain’s existence as a free nation, the surrender of the Nazi regime, and the restoration of a peaceful German government. Churchill and the Allies responded to a far greater, more evil extremism.

    Perhaps the definition of extremism lies in willingness to constructively coexist. The true extremist says, “My way or the highway. My blood, my gods, or the gas chamber.” The true opposite of extremism (advocates of peaceful, inclusive civil society?) says, “Let’s work together to make room for everyone”—everyone, that is, except for those who would stand in the way of that inclusive ideal with oppression and violence.

    Tolerance is key to civilization. But we believers in civilization don’t have to tolerate intolerance. We can’t afford to tolerate intolerance, because if we do, we’ll end up like Gaza, under attack from nations threatened or injured by the violence that breeds amidst such intolerance.

    Analogy: those of us who recognize the value of biodiversity don’t have to value coronavirus and cancer. We can still work to eradicate those virulent mutations that threaten our collective existence.

  30. larry kurtz 2023-10-16

    Extremism is writ large on every freedom caucus Faceberg page in the Mountain West and spouted by Ammon Bundy without ceasing. Reaching out to those Zittiots is peeing into a gale.

  31. larry kurtz 2023-10-16

    The Karla Lems’ and Betty Olsons and Couy Griffin want civil war.

  32. larry kurtz 2023-10-16

    Nearly every evil taking place on the planet today can be traced right back to Vladimir Putin and his looting of the Russian treasury.

  33. larry kurtz 2023-10-16

    Mrs. Noem isn’t selling freedom in South Dakota; she’s selling the Bircher roadmap to authoritarianism.

  34. David Bergan 2023-10-16

    Hi Cory!

    Thanks for the thoughtful reply. If you don’t mind indulging another round of questions…

    1) Why does extremism exist? Earth could be fair, and all men glad and wise. Prima facie, refraining from provoking your neighbor (or sibling or spouse or co-worker) should lead to a better and longer life. Why isn’t omni-toleration the default setting for human relationships? Isn’t an attitude of benevolence toward all and judgment toward none (but myself) the most sensible way to get along with others?

    2) When and where did extremism start? e.g., How far back in history or pre-history do you think it goes? Carthago Delenda Est? Annihilating the Neanderthals? Chimpanzee wars? Protosterol Biota?

    3) When and where was tolerance, as a moral concept, first lifted up as something we should do? Are there Sumerian/Egyptian/Greek/Chinese myths that recommend toleration toward the outgroup? Homer?

    Kind regards,
    David

  35. Mark B 2023-10-16

    I put my hope in the Robots. AI by definition continuously works to improve its understanding of the world. Humans have no such requirement.

  36. P. Aitch 2023-10-17

    Very accurate. Many on this blog have much to learn from AI assistance especially in social skills and proper debate culture.
    However it’s understandable why older, white, male conservatives feel threatened. There are a variety of reasons.
    Job displacement
    Technological unfamiliarity
    Values and tradition:
    Ethical concerns

    Liberals in particular though recognize the positive potential that AI offers, such as improved efficiency, new opportunities, and advancements in healthcare, among others.
    At this juncture AI is a worthy assistant to many tasks but isn’t yet capable of completing every task on its own.

  37. Mark B 2023-10-17

    AI Robots lack Fear of change and fear of knowledge. Progressives seem to be a little cooler with those concepts.

  38. David Bergan 2023-10-17

    Hi Mark!

    Does a calculator know the difference between right and wrong?

    I use AI chat programs every day. They’re impressive, and save me a lot of time and money. But they’re just word calculators. They put words together based on patterns of the words in their training set (and feedback from users). I can ask it what color the sky is, and it gives me an answer, not because it looked out the window, but because the training data has words about the color of the sky. If the training data said the sky was colored bright green… or nonsense like it was the color “five”, that’s what it would report to users. [I’ve had plenty of fun cross examining chat bots and getting them to tell me things like 6 is an odd number, and that 1 tiger could kill 5 googolplex chimpanzees.]

    Likewise, any ethical statement it regurgitates is subject to its training data. Hamas could easily make an AI that spews its extremism. Early versions of chat AI had just these types of issues. When they were trained on too much data from, say, 4chan, the AI was very intolerant.

    To put your hope in AI is to put your hope in whoever programs it. How much do you trust the morals of, say, Elon Musk or Bill Gates or Jeff Bezos? I’m not saying that any of those three are particularly corrupt, but I’d rather trust the AI to be trained on morals of St. Francis or George MacDonald… and that’s unlikely to happen.

    Kind regards,
    David

  39. larry kurtz 2023-10-17

    Bake a robot a pie and it will learn to divide by seven. Teach a robot piety and it will crucify the apples then say they died for its sins.

    Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone was a debauched playboy until a vision brought on by temporal lope epilepsy moved him to begin a life of piety.

  40. P. Aitch 2023-10-17

    Thank you for your assessment of AI, Mr. Bergen. Tell us something we don’t already know about AI. You’re a literal example of an older, white, male, Conservative whose self-esteem seems threatened. You delve into where people “might” put their hope and then quash your own scarecrow. You assert what you’d rather trust and then crush your own strawman.
    AI is a search engine with benefits. Run with that, Mr. Bergen. Its calmness may sooth your subjective peril.

  41. larry kurtz 2023-10-17

    The Republican Party is the most dangerous organization on the planet with blatant disregard for the future of the planet. The faster it is erased from Earth the quicker humanity can recover and rally against Chinese client state, Russia.

  42. David Bergan 2023-10-17

    Hi P. Aitch!

    Why do you label me conservative? What signs are you seeing that my self-esteem is threatened? And what is this subjective peril that you speak of?

    Kind regards,
    David

  43. P. Aitch 2023-10-17

    *NOTE – Revenge isn’t Self Defense (We live in a Christian country that generally believes in “Turn the other cheek.” Judaism and Islam are opposite believing in “An eye for an eye.”)

    *Did Netanyahu evacuate residents of Gaza to south Gaza just to make it easier to wipe them off the face of the Earth?
    500 dead in Israeli bombing of Gaza City Hospital today.
    Of course, Netanyahu will claim Hamas was hiding operatives within the hospital although these claims never seem to have any evidence or proof. Only bluster and wild-eyed revenge motives.

    From AXIOS AI+, today: “War crimes are war crimes even when committed by allies, and should be called out for what they are, referencing Israel’s decision to cut water and electricity supplies to Gaza and its warning to 1 million residents of northern Gaza to evacuate their homes.
    Paddy Cosgrave clarified two days later that “What Hamas did is outrageous and disgusting,” but reiterated that Israel does not “have a right to break international law,” further posting “I will not relent.”

    The White House declined to criticize Israel but called for the restoration of water supplies. Israel says it is acting in self-defense.

  44. P. Aitch 2023-10-17

    … continued – Netanyahu claims a Palestinian missile hit a Palestinian hospital. That’s what killed 500 civilians.
    Do you, as a South Dakotan believe him?

  45. David Bergan 2023-10-17

    “Do you, as a South Dakotan believe him?”

    Hi P.Aitch!

    Thanks for the response!

    Not sure what my living in South Dakota has to do with anything… but no, I don’t believe him any more or any less than other politicians. There’s only one that readily comes to mind who is exceptionally untrustworthy. To me the rest are all just meh… mostly self-serving c.y.a. types who like to be on TV sounding tough and doing next to nothing. I vote in every election, and make my choices exclusively on character, not promises or party.

    Maybe the hospital was hit by an Israeli rocket. Maybe it was hit by a Hamas rocket. Maybe it was an accident. Maybe not. “In war, truth is the first casualty.” Why does it matter to you if I believe Netanyahu or not?

    I entered the comment section here because I was curious how we’re going to curtail extremism. I would love that we could. Right now, I’m learning about Rene Girard’s scapegoat philosophy, and it very much applies to what’s happening in Gaza. His hypothesis is that violent contagions are the norm, not the exception, for human history. And such a contagion threatens to wipe out everything. Blood feuds. Revenge. Honor killings. Counting coup. Making a permanent (and constantly increasing) list of grievances. What can stop this?

    Girard’s observation from anthropology was that ancient societies very often had both ritual sacrifices and murderous founding myths. For example, Romulus and Remus (Rome) or King Oedipus (Thebes). Why? His hypothesis is that the founding murders actually happened, and were a cathartic end to a violent contagion. The unexpected peace that followed was then attributed to the killing of that person, and thus was reenacted in regular rituals to remind the citizens, feel a proxy of that catharsis, and thus preserve the peace. These rituals often involve sacrificing an outcast or innocent person but abusing them as though they are responsible for all the problems the citizens are facing. (think: witch hunt, sacrificial virgin, lepers, etc.) The lie was that because catharsis followed the scapegoating, it was assumed that the scapegoat was indeed guilty.

    Likewise, Jesus was killed by the mob as a scapegoat. (“Caiaphas advised the Jewish leaders that it would be good if one man died for the people”) However, Jesus was the scapegoat to end all scapegoats… and I don’t mean anything supernatural by that. For the first time, it was insisted that the scapegoat was innocent. And with that follows all of the protections and sympathy we now have for victims. Prior to Jesus, it was assumed that victims deserve their poor state (e.g., the man born blind man in John 9; what Job’s friends keep saying to him deserving his misfortune). Because of the disciples’ zeal in spreading the “good news” that the perfectly innocent man was crucified and raised from the dead, every society that heard their message reconsidered the basis of their sacrifices and rituals. For example, first century Jerusalem supposedly had upwards of 1.2 million animals slaughtered in a single day… but nowadays Jews don’t offer any animal sacrifices. They may not believe Jesus was the Messiah, but he nonetheless influenced their religion.

    Stories of the Native Americans’ contact with the Gospel are similar, like, say Geronimo and Black Elk.

    Jesus reframed the world, to what we now know. People are presumed innocent. Victims aren’t automatically responsible for their own misfortune. We attempt look for the fault in ourselves, and try take responsibility when we find it, rather than assume that the other is always to blame for the rift between us. Non-violent resistance is better than violent action. Turn the other cheek to stop the cycle of violence. And stop scapegoating… even with literal goats.

    Yes, I fully agree with that Christians have not lived up to this. But notice how even in judging their hypocrisy, the value system that’s being used is Christ’s own values. Christians aren’t accused of failing to live up to the virtues of Homer, the eightfold path of Buddha, or the new morality of the Nietzsche. They are judged by the only measuring stick any of us use today… the one from the New Testament. This value system is why we think about things like human rights, war crimes, reparations for slavery, or equal pay for women. Bring those ideas before Caesar and you’d have been laughed out of the forum.

    This value system is the only way I know of to curtail extremism. If we jettison Jesus, we’re condemned to scapegoating and/or blood feuds.

    Kind regards,
    David

  46. larry kurtz 2023-10-17

    Joe Biden or not the Roman Catholic Church believes their pederastic officiants can transubstantiate bread and wine into the body and blood of a Jew who has been dead for some 2000 years then offer that to a Mass. How is that even normal?

  47. larry kurtz 2023-10-17

    Show Americans a Republican who believes in social equity and we’ll have found a unifier.

  48. grudznick 2023-10-17

    If true, that’s cannibalism, Lar!

  49. P. Aitch 2023-10-17

    @David – Well that was lengthy. Almost TLTR. But not. You assert that Christians are judged by “the only measuring stick any of us use today… the one from the New Testament.” Not to be contrary but only “some” Christians judge each other that way. The majority of the planet’s inhabitants judge Christians by the standards they use to judge themselves which has zero to do with the New Testament.
    It’s highly disputed whether Jesus had any influence on Judaism. It’s a good story when attempting to do business with Christians, though. GOOGLE Yeshu for the myth.

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