Friday, August 27, 2004

Hi Tom,



Thank you. Well, I suppose my distaste of Christianity does have more

to do with Christianity itself in its distasteful forms than Jesus

Himself.



I suppose that the idea that Christians have created their culture and

instilled the law through a personage who could speak with G-d and

rise from the dead does have a certain power.



It is a really difficult thing for me to come to terms with these

things not being literally true. And this is largely due to having

been raised Mormon. Mormons take things VERY literally, because they

want you to believe that their faith is LITERALLY true. Perhaps that

in and of itself explains the emphasis on the literal. I wasn't

raised with the same Jesus that you and Liza were. Or the same G-d

for that matter.



So let's delve into this a little bit: Why is it easier for me to

accept G-d then, in all of His metaphorical incarnations, and not

Jesus?



Well. I don't know. When I hear Buddhists talk of Nirvana, Taoists

talk of The Way and Christians, Jews, and Muslims speak of G-d, I

think we are all actually talking about the same being. I think He

has revealed Himself in ways that make different cultures identify Him

in their own ways.



But then you get into specifics like Jesus, Allah, Buddha, the Dalai

Lama-- and that kind of messes things up for me. Because if it's all

metaphorical, if these are all essentially the same beings in the

metaphorical spectrum, then I have to



1) accept all religion as being Truthful rather than Factual (ding

ding ding ding ding)

2) and try to suss out the path I should take based on commonalities

among the cultures.



Why Judaism and not Christianity?



Well, that is a tough question. Because if I say that as a Jew I am

free to interpret the law and keep it as I see fit because the laws

"exist" to create a community, ritual, traditions, but are not

actually binding (and I tend to lean this way. I don't think G-d

actually cares whether I drive on Shabbat), then I am a reflection of

a culture that tells me that it's all right to get divorced, live in

sin (sorry, I am talking about your son!), put my children in day

care, legally abort a fetus, get married if you are gay, get my belly

button pierced, wear clothes that reveal that belly button, smoke

marijuana, etc. etc. etc. because we increasingly live in a society

that is growing removed from its center.



As I get older, I think I am getting more conservative. I am

divorced. I am not happy that my life took that course, but I don't

regret leaving that life. I am now living with a man with whom I am

not married. Am I okay with that? Yes, I am on the level that I am

doing it, and I adore him and love him and we are building a great

life. But there is a nagging thought in the back of my mind that we

should get married. And I can see that happening Some Day, but not

quite yet. We have talked about it, and he is still very gun-shy

about it, and it's not a deal breaker for me.



I do think gays should have equal protection under the law, get

married, adopt children. I don't think homosexuality is an

abomination. This makes me technically neither Christian nor Jew--

it's a very secular position to take, but one that is so ingrained-- I

don't want that part of me to change.



That is a choice.



So, why is it more okay with me to be a Reform Jew, who rejects the

wisdom of the rabbinical teachings found in the Talmud? Why not

Orthodox? And for that matter, why couldn't I just be a person who

believed that Jesus had a lot of great ideas, and died on a cross, and

people saw Him after He died, which indicates divinity?



I suppose because what I believe dictates action. If the concept of

Jesus I construct for myself deviates from mainstream Christianity

(and it does), then what is the point? I am not a Christian anyway in

any traditional or accepted definition, so it's much easier to go with

the Jewish path that gives me rituals and traditions I can pass on to

the kids, that give me structure in my life.



I prefer the Jewish rituals and structures, though I do love Icons.

And maybe I will let myself be the kind of Jew that has beautiful

Icons and Crosses up in her house. And if other Jews are not okay

with that, that is their problem.



I don't think I could ever be a *religious* Christian. I really

don't. I can be a religious Jew, though. And maybe I have been

clinging too long to the idea that my spirituality has to match a

religion exactly. If they won't let me convert to Judaism officially

if I have crosses or icons up in my house and if I continue to

celebrate Christmas with my children (if even only in the secular,

Santa Claus, sense), then maybe they're right and I shouldn't convert.

But somehow I think there is room in Judaism even for people like me

(though not necessarily with this rabbi).



In answer to your question, though, Tom: What do I think God is like

or not like? Well, I don't know that He is necessarily a He. If He

does not have a body, then is His personality a He? I don't buy that

G-d is a She either-- and IT doesn't seem to work, so I can live with

He.



Does He love me? Yes. I have always felt loved and protected by G-d.

So, then, we have a presence who is loving.



What more? I don't think He is a petty G-d who gets too bent out of

shape about things like head coverings, driving to Synagogue, and

things like that.



The bigger things? Divorce, living in sin, etc.? Well, you have to

ask yourself how these things affect your soul. Is it possible to

maintain a relationship with your spiritual self, and G-d, the

universe outside your own narcicissm if you are engaging wholly with

the secular? If it is, then fine, go ahead. So, I think if I look at

the underlying reasons for why certain laws have endured the

centuries, I have to sit and wonder to what extent secularism still

gives us room for souls.



And I do feel a need to protect myself from secularism to a large

degree. So, build a fence around the Torah: follow certain precepts

in order to protect your soul and to give it room to expand outside of

your bodily constraints.



I feel like I am just babbling now.



But it's a start.



Love,



Jen

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