What Jews Can Learn from John Henry Newman

Earlier this year, the Catholic Church proclaimed John Henry Newman, one of Victorian England’s foremost religious thinkers, a saint. Newman, after a long and prestigious career in the Anglican church, embraced Roman Catholicism and was eventually given the rank of cardinal. To Shalom Carmy, Jews—and Orthodox Jews in particular—have much to learn from this extraordinary figure:

Newman argued that knowing what to think and how to think contributed to being a better person in the same way that being physically healthy is better than not being healthy. He understood that a university education that excluded the most important truth—that about God—was not a satisfactory education. Therefore to compromise by compartmentalizing religious doctrine from the rest of our education is a dangerous falsification.

More importantly, Newman regarded the university as a place of education, independent of its practical technical utility. In our culture, education usually means training that will enable one to get a job doing something that benefits society or at least earn a salary. In Newman’s day as in our own, secular pundits and political spokesmen held that exposure to popular science and literature could supply modern people, especially the lower orders who did not get a liberal-arts curriculum, with the sense of meaning that had previously been fostered by religious education and, in a different way, by humanistic study. Newman saw clearly that such “neutral” information could not take the place of wisdom, let alone revelation. An unwillingness to take these matters seriously is responsible, to some degree, for the indifferent state of Orthodox [Jews’] intellectual life.

Another area where Newman’s preoccupations overlap with Jewish concerns is the question of development and tradition in religious doctrine. . . . Newman’s stress on the propagation of doctrine through the church runs counter to a prevalent modern tendency to treat belief as the product of individual reflection, what Newman calls “private judgment.” . . . Unlike the Roman Catholic Church, Judaism does not have a centralized authority like the papacy. . . . Nonetheless, one cannot adhere to Judaism either in action or in thought without some robust sense that our connection to God is formed by the collective experience of the Jewish people mediated through cumulative rabbinic interpretation.

Read more at Torah Musings

More about: Catholicism, Church of England, John Henry Newman, Theology, University

The Palestinian Prime Minister Rails against Peace at the Council of Foreign Relations

On November 17, the Palestinian Authority (PA) prime minister, Mohammad Shtayyeh, appeared at the Council on Foreign Relations, America’s most prestigious and influential foreign-policy institution. While there, Shtayyeh took the opportunity to lambast Arab states for making peace with Israel. Dore Gold comments:

[Perhaps Shtayyeh] would prefer that Bahrain, Sudan, and the United Arab Emirates declare the end of their conflicts with Israel only after all Palestinian political demands are met; however, he refused to recognize that Arab states have a right to defend their vital interests.

Since 1948, they had suspended these rights for the sake of the Palestinian cause. What Shtayyeh ultimately wants is for the Palestinians to continue to hold their past veto power over the Arab world. Essentially, he wants the Arabs to be [like the] Iranians, who supply Palestinian organizations like Hamas with weapons and money while taking the most extreme positions against peace. What the Arabs have begun to say this year is that this option is no longer on the table.

Frankly, the cracks in the Palestinian veto of peace that appeared in 2020 are undeniable. Shtayyeh is unprepared to answer why. The story of that split began with the fact that the response of the Palestinian leadership to every proposal for peace since the 2000 Camp David Summit with President Clinton has been a loud but consistent “No.”

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Palestinian Authority, U.S. Foreign policy