Thursday, April 01, 2010

New Direction?

I am tiring of commenting on religion. It is getting too depressing. Just thinking about the new round of abuse scandals in the Catholic Church, the failure of a dad to sue the wicked Phelps "church," the rise of Christian militias, the madness of Israel politics and the Jewish taliban, etc. is just wrecking my spirit.

So I am thinking about dropping the essay format on this blog, and switching to Q & A. These would be shorter posts generated by you. Your questions and versions of my answers might then end up in print as part of my column for Spirituality & Health magazine.At last this way I would offer some positive help to people who might benefit from it.

Please let me know what you think about this idea.

Thanks,
Rami

25 comments:

Raksha said...

Funny you should mention it...I'm sick of a lot of the same things you're sick of, especially the madness of Israeli politics and the heavy-handed irrelevancies of the Jewish Taliban. The problem is that I can't seem to stop thinking and writing about that stuff, along with a few related items like the relentless creeping theocracy of the New Apostolic Reformation and the terrifying theocratic delusions of the militia group that just got busted by the FBI.

Most of my writing over the past few weeks has been on a small discussion board where I'm a regular, and where oddly enough people seem to look to me for leadership. I guess my consistent verbal diarrhea over the years has given them the mistaken impression that I actually know what I'm talking about. But I don't have any answers for anything. All I'm ever successful at is stating the problem. If I can manage to do that, I feel like I've accomplished something.

I wish I could think of a specific question to ask you, and maybe I will later tonight or tomorrow. But the only question I can think of right now is "Has the whole world gone friggin' INSANE?"

But what would be the point? We both know the answer to that one already.

Shalom,
Linda

Jordan said...

Shalom Rav,

What exactly do you mean by "Jewish Taliban?"

These kinds of comparisons typically cheapen language, i.e, Taliban loses its gravitas by your gratuitous use in your post.

Oh... I get it... this an "April fools" post!!!

Wholeness to all of us,

Barry said...

I don't know what to tell you, Rabbi. I feel your pain. I'm the male spouse of a male rabbi. Thankfully, he works in a prison so I don't have to be nice to the congregants.

I don't think "hopeless" is a good Jewish attitude. I've lost respect for most of organized religion, including Reform Judaism, where my spouse and I have both worked and prayed. Maybe because of our experiences working and applying for jobs. Still, there is God, whatever that means. And I haven't given in to the urge to have a donut this week, so there must be something about being a Jew.

I enjoy your posts. Even if you just ranted about all the horrible things going on in the so-called "religious" world, dayenu..
Moadim L'simcha.

Barry Wendell
a Miami Beth Or congregant 1983-4

Joy Samuels said...

if this was an April's fool joke- got me.
if not-i wonder what has shifted for you in a discussion that was once life giving that is now depressing. i read your comments to be a part of a wider conversation, but it doesn't need to come at the expense of your frustration.
thank you for being a conversation partner.

Raksha said...

Jordan: "Jewish Taliban" is not an exaggeration, nor is it an April Fool's Day joke. It's a perfectly accurate descriptive term for a disturbing phenomenon in the haredi community, both in Israel and in certain ultra-Orthodox communities in New York. For just ONE example...
http://failedmessiah.typepad.com/failed_messiahcom/2010/04/tel-aviv-now-has-kosher-gender-separated-bus-line-567.html

--Linda

Jordan said...
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Jordan said...

Shalom Raksha,

The last time I checked Haredi weren't telling their followers to kill innocent folks. There is no moral equivalence between them and the Taliban and how unfortunate it is that there those who believe there is.

As I said the cheapening of language with such usage is a very sad development, especially when it's done by one who make his/her living with words.

Shabbat Shalom and Hag Same'ah and
Wholeness to all of us,
Biv'racha,
Jordan

Victor M. Parachin said...

Your question and answer format works very well. I will, however, miss your insights on current events, dear friend.

Raksha said...

Jordan,

Re "The last time I checked Haredi weren't telling their followers to kill innocent folks."

You might want to re-think that. The name Baruch Goldstein comes to mind, among others...

Shalom,
Linda

Jordan said...

Shalom Raksha,

Baruch Goldstein was a murdering terrorist loon.

This one time incident (16 years ago) was the act of one man and not movement sanctioned, and was roundly condemned by all mainstream Israelis. That other extremist loons venerated and may still venerate him is wrong and it is part of the cost of freedom.

One 16 year old example of a guy that acted on his own, bears absolutely no resemblance to the ideology of terror and death of the Taliban.

You've got to do better than this to demonstrate moral equivalence, Raksha.

Wholeness to all of us,
Biv'racha,
Jordan

Derek said...

I agree with Mentschkeit. I have found a lot of wisdom in your essays, and would miss them, but am also a subscriber to S&H and welcome your insight there also. I too have felt discouraged recently as the worlds madness seems to have blossomed. Keep the conversation open and alive in whatever form can also feed your soul. We ALL need to expand the conversation where we can, so that maybe the vast sleeping majority will wake up, get involved, and change can happen.

I'd be happy to start the ball rolling with a question: When I am confronted with someone, even a friend or family member, whose views seem to me to be based on dogmatic intolerance of anyone who disagrees with them, how can I constructively engage them? I understand that there are those whom I will never be able to engage constructively, but for others I wonder if their dogmatism hides a fear of questioning their own views. Being willing to question your beliefs and views for many is very uncomfortable.

Jordan said...

Shalom Derek,

You wrote,

"When I am confronted with someone, even a friend or family member, whose views seem to me to be based on dogmatic intolerance of anyone who disagrees with them, how can I constructively engage them?"

You're willingness to label another's views as "based of dogmatic intolerance," points to the possibility that you are dogmatically intolerant
of those who disagree with you!

Shabbat Shalom and Wholeness to all of us.

Jordan

andrea perez said...

April Fools?
How can't you comment on religion. It's your life? People are people and that's the problem. Too many excuses for bad behavior. Esp. so close to Yom HaShoah. When will "we" ever learn? Even in the darkest night no one can extinguish the light from a single candle? It's gotta get you through. So have heart. Or hopefully you are April Fooling Us...I know you don't have the answers, no one does...but it makes it seem better that someone, somewhere is at least trying.
:) chag sa-may-ach
Andy Perez

andrea perez said...

Oh and by the way to all you out there with the finger pointing: Jewish taliban? a Pope that was a member of the Hitler Youth and still spends his life hiding things, suicide bombers, strange militas that sound an awful lot like Charlie Manson's family, the Sudan/Congo/Darfar, ...and we spend our time in our churches/synogagoues/temples arguing over coffee, yearly pledges and who knows the "real meaning" of whatever religion we're practicing? No wonder people get disillusioned with religion. Maybe it's time to turn back to the story of Moses and the burning bush: I am what I am, I am what you make of me, I am what I will become...Exactly what does that mean? I know I take some hope from it. I know it makes me "cry" at night when I see the news ...

Jordan said...
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Jordan said...
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Jordan said...

Shalom Derek,

To answer your question, "how can I constructively engage them?" First: there is no "them." There is only "us." Dialog/meaningful conversation can only happen between equals. Second: engage as if all ideas/values are equal (they aren't and why they aren't is a discussion that is ultimately theological in nature). Third: if you encounter an idea which runs counter to one of yours remember the lyrics to "The Gambler" by Kenny Rogers:

"You gotta know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away, know when to run."

Make your decision and act accordingly.

Shabbat Shalom/Shavu'a Tov and
Wholeness to all of us,
Biv'racha,
Jordan

Jordan said...

Shalom Andy,

Terrific comments! Re the pope and the current scandal check out:

http://www.peggynoonan.com/

Re a meaningful Judaism and synagogue experience,

To paraphrase Rabbi Fred Dobbs, Judaism ought to
comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.

To quote the author of this blog: "I want a religion that discomforts me; that challenges me to see through the egoic bs that passes for spirituality and theology in this country and helps me live justly, kindly and humbly with the fact that I don't know jack."

Back to the Kenny Rogers tune I referenced above: how sad that Rabbi Rami has chosen "to walk away."

Wholeness to all of us,
Jordan

Sandy said...

Personally, I'll miss your blog. I'm afraid John and Jane Public will kidnap your space to rant their causes and opinions.

Raksha said...

Rabbi Rami: Somehow I got sidetracked and never did get around to venturing an opinion on the future direction of your blog. Would it be possible to alternate (roughly) the essay format you've been using with a Q&A format? The questions would undoubtedly suggest themes you'd want to expand on in longer pieces.

I'd really miss your essays if you did away with them completely. I've come to depend on them to keep me grounded (kinda-sorta grounded anyway) in a world going crazy. I know I'm not only speaking for myself when I say that.

Shalom,
Linda

Rabbi Rami said...

Thank you all for your comments. I was intrigued that with all the back and forth only Derek asked a question I can use in the magazine, so maybe this isn't the way to go either. Derek, thanks for the question, I will answer it in a future Spirituality & Health column.

My short answer however is this: When I hear opinions that are so different from my own I think the best thing to do is ask why someone believes as they do? What about their experience leads them to think this way? And when someone goes on the defensive so quickly, that too is interesting. Why get so high and mighty? I wonder if we can bring out the fear fueling so much of our thinking we might then be able to ease it and calm things. Or, as Raksha said, the whole world has gone friggin' insane so why bother?

Derek said...

Thanks.

Halle said...

Derek, thanks for the provocative question. I asked myself the same one AFTER I left the seder table and took some time to recover from my father-in-law the ideological bomb thrower's reading with which he kicked off the seder, affirming everything from which I ran screaming from organized religion in my twenties (and subsequently found sanity in the Reconstructionist movement.)

The world is not so tidy, despite how much we might like it to be. Rami, you're so right, we're all so busy being scared out of our minds that it is hard to listen and credit the perspective of others. I will look forward to your column in S & H.
Halle

Derek said...

Jordon, I'll admit to being dogmatically opposed to dogmatic intolerance, whether I agree with someone or not.

Jordan said...

Shalom Derek,

Is there a standard external to yourself whereby you know "dogmatic intolerance" when you encounter it?

Wholeness to all of us,
Jordan