Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Cherry Picking My Faith

I cherry pick my religion. I take what I like and leave the rest. Most Jews do this, so no one says anything, but few readily admit it. I admit it.

For example, I choose Abraham as my spiritual grandfather. My Abraham was an iconoclast who shattered the idols of his father and brothers. My Abraham was a visionary who intuited an ethical monotheism in a world that had never heard of such a thing. My Abraham put God on hold to rush off and feed three strangers who happened upon his camp [yes, they were angels but he didn’t know that]. My Abraham took up arms to rescue his nephew but did not maintain a standing militia afterward. My Abraham put God to the test demanding that justice and mercy trump divine wrath. My Abraham had no intension of killing Isaac and used the opportunity to see if God was just another bloodthirsty deity deserving only rejection. My Abraham continued to have contact with his first son and built the Ka’abah with him (see the Koran). I ignore the fact that Abraham pimped his wife (twice!), and sent his mistress and firstborn off to die in the wilderness.

For example, I redefine kosher as vegetarian and expand it to speak to consuming things in general challenging myself to limit my consumption in pursuit of simplicity and ecological sustainability.

For example, I redefine Shabbat as a day for deep play. This includes prayer, but allows for many more activities that tradition would continence.

So, in a sense, I am founding my own religion. The only difference between me and other founders of religions is that I do not market my faith as something others can follow. I don’t expect people to follow me. I don’t want people to follow me. I don’t even want to follow me.

What I do want is for people to recognize that they too cherry pick their faith. The reason there are so many versions of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism is that Jews, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists cherry pick their religions. You don’t want to feel guilty for not practicing the 613 mitzvot? Become a Reform Jew. You don’t want to worry about what the Pope might say? Become a Protestant. You don’t want to deal with caste? Become a Buddhist. You don’t want to deal with Buddhism? Become a Zen Buddhist. There is always a way to make your religion more like you.

I encourage people to create their own religions. I ask only that they be honest about it. If we were honest the violence we use to mask the fact that we are making up our religions to suit ourselves would end, and religion might be more a provider of hope that horror.


Mano said...

aa.co.zaGreat stuff. And rav todot avur tshuvatcha.

"She'eylot vetshuvot haRami."

Love your posts....eyle tziunei haderech....

Mano said...

ps....dunno why you can't email me...my email is manos@gam.co.za

gam zu le tova vegam zu vegam zu bli sof vebli hatchala

Kol Ra'ash Gadol said...

Hmm. But don't you call your new religion Judaism? Isn't that dishonest?