1. Sacred Dissonance: The Blessing of Difference in Jewish -Christian Dialogue
    Anthony Le Donne, Larry Behrendt
    Hendrickson Publishers / 2017 / Trade Paperback
    Our Price$20.99 Retail Price$29.95 Save 30% ($8.96)
    4.5 out of 5 stars for Sacred Dissonance: The Blessing of Difference in Jewish -Christian Dialogue. View reviews of this product. 2 Reviews
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  1. Chaplain Bob
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    Two friends trying to disagree (and not succeeding)
    March 8, 2018
    Chaplain Bob
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    A Review: Sacred Dissonance, the Blessing of Difference in Jewish-Christian Dialogue, by Anthony Le Donne and Larry Behrendt. Hendricksen Publishers, 2017.

    Jewish-Christian dialogue is something very important to me, and I was eager to read this engaging book by two friends and scholars.

    One might expect in this book to observe a lively debate, and near the end of Sacred Dissonance, Larry describes his interaction with Anthony as "arguments", yet I found them to rarely disagree or engage in debate. They are professing theological and political liberals (Anthony-PCUSA teaching at a Methodist Seminary and Larry-Reform Judaism, lawyer) with much in common who are mostly in agreement, with only minor differences (for example on pacifism). I found myself celebrating their friendship but disagreeing with much of what they said, particularly with Anthony (I read his book Near Christianity).

    First, they both agree that Christians are largely to blame for the Holocaust. The authors call it "Christian-perpetuated mass murder." I would like to know the authors' definition of "Christian." They fail to mention that Hitler manipulated the state church, put dissenting Christians in camps, and his goal was to return Germany to its pre-Christian pagan roots. Their argument seems to paint the Nazis as Christians, which they may have technically been on baptismal records but hardly in spirit. My ancestors did not kill Jews in Germany; they killed Nazis, so why are American Christians being blamed? The authors also claim that Christians cannot understand the Holocaust because they have not been persecuted for their faith; yet they have, and even now this is occurring in many countries (Persecution, The Global Assault on Christians, by Marshall, Gilbert and Shea). Shoah is an obviously painful topic for Larry as the son of a Holocaust survivor: "My father escaped the hell of Nazi Germany before it went into full operation. But he'd lived in hell while it was under construction."

    They also bring up the infamous Matthew 27:25, "Let his blood be on us and our people," which I agree has been used to shed Jewish blood. However, there is another way to take this controversial verse: When a small, emotionally manipulated group of people tells God to put Jesus' blood-guilt on their descendants, God is in no way obligated to take orders from them, and they do not speak for all Israel (Jesus was for the most part very popular), nor do they have the authority to do so (something Larry and Anthony only hint at). The Apostles' Creed rightly puts the blame on Rome. Since we are all sinners, and Jesus died for all, His blood is on all our hands. Professing Christians who call Jews "Christ-killers" are ignorant at best and un-Christian at worst.

    Then there's the matter of Luther. With the exception of Erasmus, the Reformation was a period of religious intolerance. Both Catholics and Protestants showed signs of anti-Semitism. Luther despised Jewsand Catholics, and Anabaptists, and anyone who disagreed with him. According to Martin Luther's Anti-Semitism by Eric Gritsch, Luther's dislike of Jews was largely theological; he resented them for rejecting his message. This does not excuse his rhetoric, however. He cared more about being right than being loving. I think Larry wisely urges that "Christians need to better understand their own anti-Jewish history. But there may be a limit on how hard Jews should pound the connection between Christianity and anti-Semitism." Rightly so, as many of us Christians are very pro-Jewish.

    The authors also have theodicy issues. They appear to embrace what they call antitheodicy: "A system of thought where we in some sense refuse to justify, explain, or accept the relationship between God and evil." They do not appreciate it when people thank God for blessings, because they do not see God so deeply involved in our lives, and they cannot reconcile how some appear blessed while others are not (should we then not thank God when good things happen?). It is the mystery of providence, yet Larry and Anthony's view of God is that of a distant, detached deity who does not open or close doors for us, nor does He appear to have a purpose for our hardships. All things work together for good, but not all things are good. We trust God regardless.

    I would have liked to have seen more discussion of replacement theology and two-covenant theory, and some of the themes found in the books of Dr. Marvin Wilson and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, authors everyone should read.

    I too am in dialogue with a Jewish religious leader, the President of my town's synagogue. We are both conservative in our religious and political views. We meet to talk and play guitar together, and we do not agree on many things, yet we are the closest of friends. Like Anthony and Larry, we are not trying to convert each other but better understand and learn from each other. And mainly, we enjoy each other's company.

    Larry offers a significant reason case for Jewish-Christian dialogue: "To glimpse the sacred on the other side." If the authors of Sacred Dissonance encourage Jews and Christians to respect each other, then that's a very good thing.

  2. TA King
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    A Beautiful Way Forward--How We All wish Dialogue Would Be!
    January 16, 2018
    TA King
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    There are so many qualities of this book that I want to celebrate: honest, authentic, push-pull, good wit, real differences, changing of perspectives, understanding through another's lens. As I was pondering this book it not only did justice to Jewish-Christian dialogue, but it provided an excellent framework for other interfaith dialogue as well.

    Thank you, Anthony and Larry, for allowing us to see your hearts and your perspectives.

    I highly recommend this book!
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