Thursday, April 2, 2009

There was a bit of a raucous regarding the Hedyot's recent post with Sara. I, like many, couldn't help but forget everything else she wrote once I read that she's part of the Roman Catholic Church. Something within me, aka my gut reaction, was shocked and dismayed that a Jew would seemingly completely drop their Jewish identity, and not only that but eventually trade it in for one that could arguably be called historically antithetical to a Jewish identity. If she would have become a Quaker, I still might have been saddened, but I don't think I would have felt abysmally dismal. Those of you that are familiar with various different Christian theologies will understand why I chose Quaker.

But who care's about history? I think that most people do to some extent or another. Historical Narratives bind people together and shared experiences make people feel connected at a very deep and personal level. I've heard of experiments with moral psychology that show people are much more willing to help strangers, even after a short conversation. Call it right, wrong or indifferent, history matters. What about forgive and forget? I'm sure there are plenty of objections and rabbit trails this conversation could go down, but that's for another time and place.

Before I go on, I should say that I'm just about as ambivalent toward Catholicism as I am towards most other religious sects. If it works for you, makes you happy, gives you meaning and helps you avoid cruelty, then, by all means, be a good Catholic. I have several Catholic friends, (the kind that go to mass every other Christmas or Easter ;-) and we have great conversations about our respective religious and cultural backgrounds. I'm even of the persuasion now that many religious stripes are good for most people. And not in a condescending way, along the lines of, "Religion is the opiate of the masses." I honestly think that many religious stripes are tried and true to offer meaning, a skeleton of morality and many other benefits.

At the end of the day, I think that Sara is making a great life for herself. She's in law school and seems to be happily married. Who cares about the religious stripe she's chosen?

After re-reading the interview, I realized that she never says that she left Judaism and eventually joined Catholicism to, as XGH characterized, "... wear jeans or shorts in public, eat what you want, shake hands with men, and even use birth control (although frowned on by the church) and advocate for gay marriage, and not be shunned by your community or have to hide or fake many of your beliefs." She was merely pointing out some of the things she's more comfortable doing now as opposed to when she was a frum Beis Yaakov girl. That's a very significant difference. If you asked me some of the things that I enjoy, now that I'm not frum, I might mention the delicious variety of Cheeseburgers at the local bar. But that's obviously not one of the reasons that I left frumkeit.

I just came to this revelation, and it destroyed the rest of what I was going to write about. Maybe I'll write about it later... I even had to change the title of the post.

P.S. Comment moderation is off for the time being.