Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Which books would you ban?


Last week libraries and bookstores celebrated Banned Book Week, an event held during the last week in September since 1982. According to the founding organization's website, hundreds of libraries and bookstores around the country draw attention to the problem of censorship by hosting a variety of events and mounting displays of challenged books. Its main goal is to support intellectual freedom by featuring books and other materials that have been banned or challenged by those who wish to prevent certain ideas from spreading.

I thought it would be a good idea to organize our own little Jewish version here and give everyone an opportunity to list the books that have been banned or at least should be banned by the rabbinic class.

Have you read an idea somewhere that would make a Right Wing educated yeshiva boy pull his hair out? Tell us where you found it. You can list books, articles, essays, etc....

Just to get an obvious book out of the way, and to demonstrate the format,  here is my first nomination:

  • Making of a Gadol by Nathan Kamenetsky
    Reason: This book contains stories that humanize rabbinical figures of past generations. It was banned by contemporary rabbis because if rabbis of past generations threw chairs at each other, what does that say about our rabbis today. (This is my own insight, you can do this too.)
Your Turn!

DB here. My nominees are after the jump.
Here's my short list of books the rabbis would rather you not know exist:

The Limits of Orthodox Theology: Maimonides' Thirteen Principles Reappraisedby Mark Shapiro
Reason: It demonstrates that Judaism isn't a monolith by proving conclusively that many of the principles we take for granted as essential to Orthodoxy were emphatically denied by some of the great Rabbis.

The Faith of the Mithnagdim: Rabbinic Responses to Hasidic Raptureby Alan Nadler
Paints an unflattering picture of the early Hasidic leaders, while demonstrating how the movement developed historically. Also, it reminds us of a Litvish set of attitudes we'd prefer to forget existed.

The Guide for the Perplexedby Moses Miamonides
Banned in its own time for all sorts of reasons, the book should be prohibited today because it denies the Torah True rule of NO COINCIDENCES

The Bible As It Wasby James Kugel
Any of this author's books should be banned. I've highlighted this one because it helps us see how midrashim originated and developed (i.e. not via an unbroken tradition from Sinai)

Minor Prophets An Exegetical and Expository CommentaryThe minor prophets are out because they wasted pages preaching about social justice with hardly a word of complaint about skirt lengths.

Why Evolution Is Trueby Jerry A. Coyne
Aside for the business about evolution, the book contains lots of two and three-syllable words and relies on non Torah True methods such as logic and empiricism

Constantine's Sword: The Church and the Jews -- A Historyby James Carrol
Now that the Christians are reliable Zionists and our best friends ever, we would prefer you not recall how they butchered, and debased, and afflicted, and harrased, and humiliated, and tormented us for almost 2000 years. What matters now is that we all hate Muslims.

More as it comes to me.

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