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September 19, 2010

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Though Christians don't *just* read the New Testament, it is my churchgoing experience (United Methodist, East Central Ohio) that the New Testament has been emphasized a whole lot more than the Old (I'm sure the presence of Jesus within it is a major factor in the reasoning). I do think this does help explain the differences in thought process.

I'm a Catholic. The Catholicism comes from my mother (my father converted to be able to marry her in the Church). But another side of my mother is that she puts a huge focus on education.

My mother had lots of Jewish friends as a child and was not able to go to high school (her family needed her to work because of the depression). It hurt her that she was not able to finish school (my mother is very smart but doesn't see herself that way). So she put a lot of pressure on me and my brothers to get good educations.

I see myself as having been subject to both kinds of influences -- the Catholic/Christian influence and the Jewish influence. Catholics are as a general rule among the least wealthy of Christians. But I don't think that there is an inevitable conflict between being Christian and making/liking money. There are definitely different influences, though. The different religions for various reasons see things from different perspectives.

I find it very interesting to examine why people think differently on questions of this sort. Often we go through life not being aware of these influences and then one day it hit us. As a boy I used to often take long walks to get to a bookstore that I loved. Later on, I came to figure out why it required such a long walk. Catholic neighborhoods rarely had such bookstores. They were almost always to be found in Jewish neighborhoods. I was taking that long walk because of my mother's influence, which came about because of some friends she made as a young girl many years earlier!

Rob

While the author may be cherry picking his money versus from the new testament I think there are a few points which are valid.

First, I am not 100% certain of this but I don't think you will find many if any similar versus in the old testament.

Second, I think it is noteworthy that in Christian circles there are 2 money based gospels both of which I believe are false and corrupt gospels. They are the health wealth gospel where God is santa claus and is there to bless you with great wealth and health if you have the correct amount of faith, and the other is the poverty gospel which basically says that poverty is a virtue and riches a vice and only one of meager means can truly be close to Christ.

I am not aware of this kind of thinking in Jewish circles so it must come from somewhere and people with the poverty gospel find support for it in the bible, as do the health wealth supporters.

I think there are many Christians (certainly no where near all of them, just a good number of them) who have either an unhealthy view of money or just view it as a non-spiritual thing that isn't of primary concern.

@Apex & FMF: I don't think you have to be poor to be close to Christ, but Jesus was quite clear throughout the entirety of His teaching that it is extremely difficult for the rich to enter God's kingdom. That ought to be a clue to us to be very cautious about how we view and handle wealth. It's also very clear that the poor are not to be despised, looked down upon, or treated unfairly. That was one big problem with Judaism that Jesus attacked over and over.

I think what is clear throughout the Bible (OT and NT) is that contentment and generosity are to mark our lives as we seek to follow and honor God. Those virtues can be evident whether you are rich or poor, but they require the rich to give up much more as the world measures things.

Re: Timothy vs. 1 Timothy - did you add the 1 into the quote? Because when there is a 1 in front of Timothy in what you have noted in red.

Again being the token Jew, allow me to chime in.

I disagree with the assertion that Jews view money as being good in and of itself. There are plenty of commentaries which say that people can be corrupted by being wealthy or by the pursuit of wealth at all costs. Prosperity is good in so far as it uplifts the community and allows it to attend to the spiritual, without having to focus on where one's next meal is coming from.

The wealthy have an obligation to help the poor and to help one's community. In Bible, farmers were commanded to leave some of their harvest for the poor to collect so that nobody would go without. During the Passover seder, Jews are required to open their doors to the poor so that they can share in the meal. There are other examples of this that can be cited.

I really love this article. Although I don't know if this is really the psychological reason for the differences in money, it could possibly be.

Either way I think the jewish proverbs here are great to note, no matter what religion, because they are true. Poverty is a horrible thing. Grateful to live in a country where you don't have to live in poverty.

FMF - Must take umbrage with the continued use of the word "disproportionately".

Whether you mean it or not, in today's vernacular it implies being wrong, improper, unjust, or otherwise something that should not be so.


People often over-look the very basic principles and teachings of wealth. This is definitely something that people should pay more attention to.

@MasterPo,

It does not.

Often times when a difference exists people will want to find out why and if they think it should not exist try to correct it but using the word disproportionate does not imply an injustice by itself. It merely points out a difference that is beyond statistics and from there if there if it is caused by an injustice that can then be discussed and looked into.

Please give an example of a statistically verifiable difference between groups where the use of the word disproportionate all by itself is generally accepted to mean that the difference is wrong rather than just pointing out the difference.

Here are some examples of it being used in the major media exclusively concerning race which is about the most sensitive subject to use it on:

Blacks disproportionately affected by heart disease:

http://findarticles.com/p/news-articles/south-florida-times/mi_8179/is_20100226/blacks-disproportionately-affected-heart-disease/ai_n52988443/

Here is an article by a black person about black crime in the Huffington post (liberal outlet) where the word disproportionate is used about 5 times when discussing black crime rates. If disproportionate implied something wrong with blacks I doubt this black writer would be using it about black crime in the Huffington Post:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/van-jones/are-blacks-a-criminal-rac_b_8398.html

Blacks and Hispanics disproportionately affected by unemployment:

http://www.jstor.org/pss/3485985

These are not blogs, these are media outlets or scientific journals. You would not find offensive words like the N word or racial stereotyping slurs or any such things in outlets like this.

Just because you think a word implies something doesn't make it so. When the word is used it may very well be by someone who thinks the difference is unjust but what are they supposed to say instead, that there is a statistically verifiable difference between one group and another that is beyond a normal random distribution in a sample size? Rather than that entire mouthful, our language ancestors in their wisdom devised a word for that. It's called disproportionate and people use regularly all over the major media outlets and scientific communities.

If you think it's unjust that Jewish people have a better money mindset than other people or flatly inaccurate, then do something about that. Why you take your battle to the use of the word disproportionate is quite baffling.

Hello all, I'm an actual rabbi, serving an actual synagogue, who on a daily basis deals with poor Jews, broke Jews, indebted Jews, and struggling-middle-class Jews. There are so many things wrong with this article and book- not least of which it makes the Jewish poor and working class invisible and shamed if they don't fit into some class stereotype which is enormously destructive to our community.

Second- let's be clear here: the association with Jews and money is a classic trope of antisemitism, going back to the New Testament and continuing through Shylock, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Hitler and Hamas. Yes- there are wealthy Jews, and yes, Jews have often being historically involved in professions- but that's also because for hundreds of years, Christians in Europe and American wouldn't allow Jews into corporations and guilds.

Becoming a lawyer or accountant was a way to make a living when you couldn't get a job at Proctor and Gamble or Ford.

Finally- it's just profoundly religious oversimplified to say that Jews regard money as an unalloyed good. Going back to the earliest texts of the Talmud, there is a prominent tradition (check out Pirke Avot, chapter 6, for example) that associates money and wealth with corruption and distraction. The mussar , or ethical character, tradition of Eastern Europe was very ascetic, and its rabbis are famous for their piety in voluntary poverty.

There are really good books on the Jewish laws of business ethics, charity and proper conduct- and not one of them will ever tell you that getting rich is relevant to your place in the World to Come.

New York Rabbi

I hope this book actually gets into the last 2000 years worth of Jewish history in Europe and the Middle East. Looking at this subject from a purely Biblical point of view won't yield much of interest or use.

Apex - It isn't the numbers in question. It's the use of the word "disproportionate".

When you read something like "The ranks of CEOs are disproportionately white people" or "A disproportionate number of high end healthcare plans are owned by the rich", etc that conjures emotions of something being foul with the scenario.

Just drop the word.

Maybe I'm wrong, but I always thought disproportionate meant "out of the norm" or "statistically unbalanced." That's how I've always used it and I find nothing wrong in FMF's use of the word.

Master Po - one most ususally finds what one looks for. You are looking for a wrong answer and are overlooking the one right answer. I googled the word and the answer was "unequal or out of proportion in quantity, shape, or size."

@Georgia,

You are of course entirely correct. MasterPo is spouting non-sense. He is making claims that I have heard no other person on the planet ever claim. And he offers no proof or backing of his claims other than that it conjures emotions for him (and presumably for most other people as well as he sees it). One would think one could find at least one main stream outlet that has written on the inappropriateness of using this word. I did a simple google search and offered him 3 examples of major outlets that used the word repeatedly without apology. I only ask him to show one where a major outlet discusses the inappropriateness of using the offensive word "disproportionate. Instead he responds by offering his opinion about a couple uses of the word and how they conjure foul emotions.

It's very simple Po. Your statement is flat out ridiculous. Offer some evidence to prove me wrong. Restating your opinion isn't an argument.

Sarah --

Yes, I did.

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