Monday, January 16, 2017


I know I am talking about religion a lot lately. It is because I am being confronted by just how pervasive evangelical Young Earth Creationism (YEC) is around me. I have never been in a community before where such beliefs were so insidious. It is the cause of much cognitive dissonance for me as I interact and befriend those who seem like good, nice people and then find my oldest son and I are each being sent Christian scripture (Romans), which leaves us explaining that we don't believe in Jesus and never will. We do not believe in the concept of needing to be saved and never will. It is even doubly troubling when those trying to convert you are your Embassy colleagues, social sponsor and neighbor wrapped-up into one.

I've always believed that being friends with those who have differing views, religions, cultures was a wonderful experience to truly understand each other. And, it always has been. So, I am sussing out my beliefs in a more concentrated way to help me figure out why I find myself uneasy with all of this. Here is where I am at so far.

My Jewish identity is very important to me. Not because of some fear of G-d, but because for millennium my people have been persecuted, killed, or assimilated into near extinction. And, even years after the holocaust, there are fewer Jewish people today (2014, 14.2 million worldwide) than existed in the 1939 (16.6 million worldwide). I want to continue to build my people up. These feelings have grown stronger through the years, really taking shape upon the birth of our first child. I want for our children to have a Jewish identity and pass that on to their children.

All that being said, I do not believe that whatever higher power exists would be in the form of a corporeal being of some sort. I do not believe the bible is the inerrant word of G-d. In fact, I was taught that the reason we use a hyphen when spelling out G-d is that humans are not possibly capable of capturing the essence of G-d in a word. So, if we cannot capture the essence of G-d in a word, how arrogant must we be to believe that humans could possibly capture this higher power's message, meaning and full intent in the form of a group of words (a bible). Even if assuming various bibles were based on historical events thousands of years ago, these stories have been passed down from one generation to the next, from one language to the next, with human interpretation and agendas at each step of the process.

Whether the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, the Koran, the Book of Mormon, the Shruti, or some other text, each bible has a place in its community as a guide for family, community, and individuals. Still, these guideposts were a product of their times, based on the customs and ideals of the community and political/religious leaders at the time each portion was told, written, translated, and/or re-translated. Far too often, this has resulted in biblical text being used as a weapon against those who believe differently. In my opinion, that is not a valid or appropriate purpose for any biblical text. Bibles should be a guide toward our humanity, not away from it.

So, I find myself asking, "if you don't believe the bible is the inerrant word of G-d, why work on keeping more and more kosher with each passing year? Why work on following the mitzvah more with each passing year?" I think it is because, more than anything, it is about keeping and growing in my Jewish identity and passing that identity on to our children. It is about celebrating, honoring and educating our children on our customs, stories and traditions and helping rebuild our community. But, it is never about using our customs, stories and traditions as a weapon against those who believe differently.

So, where does this leave me in my current situation? I don't really know. I'm still trying to work that out!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That Christian proselytizing, combined with a global misunderstanding of America as a post-ethnic nation, leads many non-Americans to think we're all Christian and that we're all "arrogant."