Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Value of an Oppositional Viewpoint

In the comments on Purim you will find a back and forth between me and Anonymous over Judaism and his/her claim that the incorporation of pagan elements is antithetical to Judaism. As much as I did not appreciate the apparent single mindedness of this individual and their condescension, I did enjoy the fencing. Ironically, I think the exchange had absolutely the opposite effect that this person desired and rather than making me feel guilty for my point of view it helped me clarify where I stood on some issues which is not to say that if they had actually addressed the issues I raised that they would not have been able to change my mind. I have to thank Myfanwy again for her support - it is interesting how 2 people, 1 in favor of my explorations and 1 against, can both help me find my way.

The exchange also made me a little sad at how this person, someone apparently strong in their convictions, could only advise me to go talk to my rabbi. Maybe I'm just more willing than some people to give someone the benefit of my thoughts and rightly or wrongly believe that they have some merit but I at least feel a responsibility to assist others on their spiritual journeys and am unwilling to pass the buck to a clergy type personage. Whether somebody has been ordained or not doesn't necessarily have anything to do with their effectiveness or suitability as a spiritual guide.

Frankly, with few exceptions, as long as it is a belief system that does not seek to harm others, I will support anybody's spirituality. It means more to me that someone actually takes stock of themselves and develops a relationship with the Divine and hopefully takes positive action stemming from that relationship than what creed or rituals they subscribe to. This is why I feel equally comfortable creating Pagan altar cloths and Book of Shadows, Jewish tallitot and kippot and lace Christmas ornaments and crosses. If I saw a place where I could be of service creating things of beauty that would aid in a Muslim's relationship with Allah and the true expression thereof I wouldn't have a problem doing so.

Being a spiritual person is difficult enough in this day and age and I feel that we all have a responsibility to help each other out even if that means serving as a foil for someone else's beliefs. I guess it also goes along with the fact that I believe in an essentially understanding and merciful Diety who would rather that we use the brains and spirit S/He gave us than do/believe something just because some other human being told us to. I cannot put it better than was put in Kingdom of Heaven ". . . But remember that, even when those who move you be kings or men of power, your soul is in your keeping alone. When you stand before God you cannot say "but I was told by others to do thus" or that "virtue was not convinient at the time." This will not suffice. Remember that."

As you have figured out by now, I'm pretty ecumenical; one of the few things I cannot stand is evangelism and the attitude that "there is only one true way and I have it" with the corrollary that they will 'help' you to salvation; respectful presentation of a differing point of view is something else entirely. One of the jokes in my family is that when my mother said "let me *help* you" you ran the other way. I love Mom dearly but she was and is a strong willed person and sometimes, as with just about anybody, she felt she knew what was needed and by God, it was going to happen. :) Thankfully she's mellowed a bit. Perhaps I am more able to puzzle my way through spiritual matters and have more confidence in my relationship with the Almighty than most people and therefore am willing to take risks with my soul by making up my own mind that most people wouldn't but I don't want to believe that this is the case. It disturbs me though how many people don't want to be exposed to ideas outside their comfort zone. How can one make a decision without being presented with various facets of the issue? Then again, perhaps me being a Gemini has something to do with my comfortability with various viewpoints.


  1. You totally missed my point - I am not trying to change you, I am trying A) to dismiss you, and B) to expose you.

    I accept that you are hopeless, but do not wish your twisting of a faith you obviously lied to join (there is no way a rabbi would convert you with your beliefs had you been truthful) to go unchallenged.

    Your smug little "I cannot stand is evangelism and the attitude that "there is only one true way and I have it" " is meaningless - because Judaism IS practiced in many MANY forms - but all those forms DO share the common belief around Pagans and Paganism - and you have no standing to come in and "change" it.


    Oh - by the way - your Talmud "quote" is a lie, and basically exposes exactly how ignorant of Judaism you really are. First of all - there is no Chapter verse structure in the Talmud, and secondly anyone who know anything at all about the Talmud - especially the Gemara knows that one simply does not poskim hallachah from it. The relevant text reads "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live", and while I am NOT advocating having you killed - I am telling you that is Torah, and it is NOT explained away by the Talmud (Sanhedrin 56, 60 and 67 if you're curious).

    Simply - it is a belief that is antithetical to Judaism.

    In spite of your comment "The exchange also made me a little sad at how this person, someone apparently strong in their convictions, could only advise me to go talk to my rabbi." I still so believe, and further believe you to be a coward for not doing so.

  2. Or to put it another way - practice what you like, but don't call it Judaism.

    Because it isn't.