Thank you, Tom, for this gracious addition to the conversation. I believe I have much to learn from you.
I especially agreed with the paragraphs I have left below. I believe I profited from this discussion, at the least from learning differing points of view here on the list. I hope others have profited as well. I think there is profit in at least working over the implications of something so important as religion, even if it confirms in your mind the answer you've already come to.
Let me confirm that all of my posts were meant in good will, and if they seemed harsh, the explanation is either: 1) my weakness at being gracious, or 2) the unfortunate offense of my beliefs. If my beliefs need be an offense to someone, I never wish that the offense arises because of the harsh way I present those  beliefs.
Nancy and Marcia, I appreciate your interaction with the ideas that were presented. I also appreciate your work on Eliot and your comments in the past here on the list. I am ready and willing to continue into our various future discussions as good friends.

Best wishes,

>>> [log in to unmask] 11/10/04 03:50PM >>>
At the end of the day, Will could come back and say "OK, I should have said 'from the Christian perspective' this or that is such as concerns Judaism."  But I continue to believe that, if he instead says, for example, "Everything I say is from the Christian perspective, and I reject any phrasing that does not take that for granted" -- the horseradish/fly scenario I alluded to -- I think he is guilty of, at worst, insensitivity and, perhaps, is "guilty" of nothing other than speaking in the voice that is natural and comfortable to him.

I do not think you or anyone else should be expected to agree with all of Will's (or anyone's) assumptions, or to refrain from criticizing his expression when it treats assumptions as facts.  But that doesn't mean he must, or even, necessarily, should change.

To me, this whole string illustrates how principled people, with nothing but good will (I believe), can get into unnecessary and unproductive arguments over religion.  An example of a similar event on a more public stage is reported here:

However, the answer surely is not to refrain from these discussions, since the passion that religion can inspire is a tribute to its importance as well as a sign of its danger.

Tom K