I took the SelectSmart religion questionnaire a few days ago. I wanted to start out the new year in fine spiritual form. The results would not make my family proud.
On a scale of 1 to 100, I scored 100% Unitarian Universalist. Liberal Quaker came in second with 94%. Reform Judaism, the faith in which I am ordained, tied with Jainism for seventh place at 72%, just behind Hinduism (77%) and just ahead of Secular Humanism (71%). Orthodox Judaism, the religion of my birth, came in at 19th place with 46%, five slots behind Scientology at 64%. Can it be that I prefer Hubbard to Hillel?
You might find fault with SelectSmart’s questionnaire. I don’t know enough math to investigate the accuracy of its algorithms , but I wasn’t surprised by the results. As I travel the country speaking in synagogues (a job that will, with the posting of this blog, no doubt cease to exist), I find myself more and more alienated from the official party line and liturgy. I am not the only one who feels this way. I meet lots of Unitarians and Liberal Quakers masquerading as Jews in America.
I am proud to be a Jew, but I can’t get excited about making a fetish of it. It seems to me that contemporary Judaism is all about being Jewish. To me, Judaism, indeed all religion, is a means not an end; it is about healing person and planet through justice and compassion, and not about keeping Jews Jewish. All the time, money, and creative energies put into making Judaism more interesting to Jews is a waste. What is more interesting than spiritual and social transformation? I think that if the Jewish establishment focused more on the mission of Judaism and less on the membership statistics of Jews themselves they might find more people taking Judaism seriously. But what do I know? I’m a Unitarian.
So what should I do? Retake the questionnaire and fudge my answers so I turn out more Jewish? No, I can’t pretend to believe what I don’t believe, and I don’t believe in Chosen Peoples, Holy Lands, Creator Gods, or Revealed Texts.
I suppose I could join a Unitarian Fellowship or Quaker Meeting. I have attended both many times and find the experience far less aggravating that a typical synagogue service where I have to argue with almost every word that is printed in the siddur (prayer book). Unitarians have no formal liturgy, and it is hard to argue with what is being said at a Quaker Meeting when literally nothing is being said. But I’m too guilt ridden to play for another team.
So the only thing I can do is berate myself for having started the year with the SelectSmart questionnaire. So much for 2008 being a new year. It’s already just another one.