Quoting You Are Not At Risk

pliskin

Rabbi Zelig Pliskin – Found at the website promoting the book “The Light From Zion.”

Fear of failure is a prime cause of anxiety. People think, “If I don’t succeed, I am a worthless failure.”

Someone who fears failure is not willing to take the risks that are an essential ingredient in every new undertaking. This prevents him from taking action in many situations in which he could accomplish a great deal.

If someone accepts that his intrinsic worth as a person is never at risk ― even if he does not succeed at a given task ― then he is likely to try much more to accomplish.

-from Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s book “Gateway to Happiness,” p.131

Every morning, I get an email from the Jewish educational organization Aish.com containing, among other things, quotes like this one. Although I’m a Christian, I tend to “resonate” more with Jewish theological perspectives. Since lately, I’ve been discussing some rather negative trends in the world of SF/F relative to events at the recent WorldCon convention in San Jose, I thought I should provide a counterbalance. We should define ourselves by our best qualities, not by who or what we oppose.

So I thought I should start providing a quote from Rabbi Zelig Pliskin on this blog every morning that I’m able (next week, I’ll be taking a trip and may be offline for a few days). This is probably more in line with my religious blog My Morning Meditations, but I think it’s needed here.

Perhaps it will convince some people that the world of religion isn’t always evil or hateful, and that there may be a profound wisdom, kindness, and joy inside the hearts of many who have faith in a power greater than human beings.

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11 thoughts on “Quoting You Are Not At Risk

  1. I don’t believe that the world of religion is always “evil or hateful.” But I do believe that many who claim to be religious are “evil or hateful.” Not most religious people, but enough.

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      • True, there are militant atheists who are as intolerant as militant Christians. But there are way more intolerant Christians in our country than there are atheists of any stripe.

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      • Atheists, agnostics, and humanists makes up about 18% of the US population, and those who self identify as atheists is only around 3-4%. 73% of Americans identify as Christian. Assuming 325 million Americans, that amounts to 237 million American Christians and around 10 million atheists. Let’s say that only 1 in 20 (or 5%) of Christians are “intolerant” of those who are not Christian. That equates to almost 12 million intolerant Christians to just fewer than a total of 10 atheists.

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      • I probably haven’t had enough coffee yet to engage in this sort of conversation, but the simple terms “atheist,” “Christian,” “conservative,” and “liberal” don’t communicate as much as we think they do. There are many, many churches and synagogues that operate on the liberal end of the scale and are very welcoming of the LGBTQ+ community. In fact, one of the two synagogues in Boise is such a place. Also, “intolerant” of who and what?” If an antifa member punches an admitted Trump voter in the face, is the antifa member “intolerant” of Trump supporters or political conservatives in general? What if a Lutheran Pastor chooses to work in hospice with AIDS victims including gay men? That isn’t hypothetical, I know of such a person.

        We’re probably not going to get a solid answer from a quick Google search or data gathered by Wikipedia. Tolerance and intolerance takes many forms, and I think the solution to isolating ourselves in the “silos” of our belief systems or our self-imposed labeling is to have conversations like this. I was discussing the whole WorldCon meltdown and resurrection with another blogger who actually attended WorldCon, and it seems the extremist views I was getting were from a very narrow band of people on both sides of the aisle. She said that the actual event wasn’t quite so skewed, although from my understanding, there were still a few panels I probably wouldn’t have attended due to their highly specific focus.

        Right and wrong are highly nuanced (I know that religious people are supposed to have rigid definitions, and although I do believe in some absolutes, there’s a lot of territory in-between that I do and should struggle with) and I don’t think anyone should risk believing their own moral standards are the end all and be all of humanity. That’s why, and I’ve said this before, that if a conservative, religious dystopia is possible, so is a leftist atheist dystopia, and in fact, history records them both.

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  2. “We should define ourselves by our best qualities, not by who or what we oppose.” Amen to that. I also liked the rabbi’s quote. Failing to see the inherent value in others and ourselves can lead to a great many evils.

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    • It depends on your point of view. While both traditional Jews and Christians would probably agree with you, especially given their current trajectories, However, a number of New Testament scholars, including Mark Nanos and Magnus Zetterholm, are re-examining the Christian scriptures, peeling back 20 centuries of Christian interpretation and returning the Apostle Paul and his writings to their first century Jewish context, and the results are very interesting. One such collection of articles is Paul within Judaism: Restoring the First-Century Context to the Apostle.

      At the point when the Jewish Messiah King returns, I suspect he’ll be far more Jewish and pro-Israel than most churches will find comfortable. I’ve spent years writing about that very thing at my other blog Morning Mediations.

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