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1 Mad Prophet Ludwig  Wed, Jul 28, 2010 1:21:04pm

Given the current flap with conversion, I think that it was very right of you to post this. There are, unfortunately too many "holy" people who forget this.

Do not con sider your ori gin as infe rior. While we are the descendants of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob, you derive from Him through whose word the world was cre ated. As is said by Isa iah: “One shall say, I am the Lord’s, and another shall call him self by the name of Jacob”

2 CuriousLurker  Wed, Jul 28, 2010 1:33:19pm

That's a beautiful letter; I think I'll order that book. Thank you.

3 akarra  Wed, Jul 28, 2010 2:02:25pm

re: #2 CuriousLurker

That's a beautiful letter; I think I'll order that book. Thank you.

I actually do not like the book - only the letter. The book has excerpts of Maimonides' writings, and you really need whole texts because he makes every single word count.

I'm no expert on Maimonides, but the Sholmo Pines translation of "Guide to the Perplexed" would be something I buy for my field of study. There's also the Lerner/Mahdi "Medieval Political Philosophy," which again has excerpts, but editors I trust.

4 CuriousLurker  Wed, Jul 28, 2010 2:50:29pm

re: #3 akarra

I went to Amazon right after posting and looked at A Maimonides Reader. It seems to be mostly commentary on Jewish scriptures & law, but it was kind of hard for me to tell as I don't know much about either subject.

Still, if felt comfortable in a way; very similar in tone & organization to Islamic books of the same type (at least from the few pages I could see). I suppose that shouldn't surprise me as he was a contemporary of many of the classical Islamic scholars.

I'm not big on philosophy & logic as I prefer things that speak to the heart, but I love history and reading about the lives of interesting people, so maybe I'll also look for a good biography on him. If you have one you'd like to recommend, I'm all ears.

Thanks for taking the time to answer.

5 Mad Prophet Ludwig  Wed, Jul 28, 2010 3:12:29pm

re: #3 akarra

re: #4 CuriousLurker

The Rambam is one of the deepest thinkers in human history. It is absolutely true that he makes every word count.

Guide for the Perplexed is the book for anyone interested in the deeper philosophies behind monotheism. As to speaking to the heart, (this in reply to Curious Lurker) the Rambam is many centuries before his time in many ways. He provides a rationalist permission to believe that might otherwise be drowned out in the clamor of both ignorant preachers, and oh so scientific atheists who smugly think that only stupid folks could believe in monotheism.

Rambam is not easy reading, nor did he intend to be easy reading. In fct, he can very very gruff, and deeply judgmental of stupidity. He does not suffer fools gladly and he assumes that his reader is intelligent and willing to think things through. The process though is worth it.

In order to speak to the heart - particularly in the modern age, the mind must first not feel stupid to follow the heart.

6 CuriousLurker  Wed, Jul 28, 2010 4:04:32pm

re: #5 LudwigVanQuixote

Hi, Ludwig. I was hoping you'd come back and chime in as I didn't want to drag this out into the middle of a thread (too hard to follow when comments are flying).

It definitely sounds like I've been missing out by not having read him. He sounds fascinating and the Letter to Obadiah certainly speaks to the heart, or at least it did to mine. The language of the heart has a way of transcending all other differences.

I don't mind gruffness. In fact, I sometimes prefer it as it keeps me on my toes. Besides, if he's the man you say he is—and he must be or he wouldn't still be so well-known & respected—then I'm sure his gruffness is intended to benefit the reader.

In one of the Amazon books I was browsing through, he mentioned being in agreement with Al-Ghazali, who so famously blasted some of the Islamic philosophers of his day. I'm a huge fan of Al-Ghazali, so it would be a real treat to me to see him through the eyes of someone whom he influenced, but who was from a different tradition.

I've never understood why people (particularly in the West it seems) insist that science & religion must be an either/or choice. I want both. I need both. I don't need religion or spirituality to ride a train, or fix my computer, or know that global warming is real. By the same token, if I'm worried, or sad, or joyful I'm not going to go to my toaster oven for comfort or advice, nor will I be inclined give thanks to Darwin for some blessing I feel has been bestowed upon me. Maybe reading the Rambam will help me articulate that better, huh? I hope so. ;o)

In order to speak to the heart - particularly in the modern age, the mind must first not feel stupid to follow the heart.

Quoted for truth.

Thanks a bunch for all the info.

7 Mad Prophet Ludwig  Wed, Jul 28, 2010 6:52:41pm

re: #6 CuriousLurker

From your post, I can tell that you will love the Rambam. His entire raison d'etre as a commenter was to unify rationalism with faith.

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