Sunday, September 24, 2017

More Religious Dischord: L'Shana Tovah, Everybody.

Image of the Torah, the ancient Jewish scroll, from
Wikimedia Commons.
Back in April, I wrote a kind of personal blog post about my feelings towards religion.

In that blog post I talked about the fact that I have conflicting desires in terms of religion.  On one hand, as a parent, I want my son to be knowledgeable about religion, to find spirituality, to find a purpose in the world, a place in the world, and religion is supposed to be the thing that helps you do that.  I also want him to be connected to Judaism, and the struggle of our ancestors, handed down over 5000 years to live in God's good graces.

On the other hand, I personally haven't been able to get any of those things from organized religion.  I don't really believe, and I find it an imposition and a lie to go and do stuff I don't believe in.  I feel like I am trying to please my dead mother, who in turn was trying to please her dead mother.  I want to get off the dead-mother-pleasing train.

Well, it's now the High Holy Days (where four big religious holidays happen in quick succession- Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year), Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), Sukkot (the Harvest Festival) and Simchat Torah, a celebration of the Torah.   (And the fact that I know this is proof of my Jewish education)

"Two paths diverged in a wood."  Of course, there are always more than two paths. Photo from Wikimedia
Meanwhile, over in Adam's emotionland, nothing has resolved itself, and I am back at square one of feeling like a liar and a failure as a religious parent.

I have a fair amount of internal turmoil about this, and it has become external as well.  My disdain for synagogue earned me a fairly angry tongue lashing from my wife who essentially told me "suck it up cupcake. "  "He takes his cues from you, and if you are disdainful, then so will he be."  (She didn't exactly say that, but close enough.)

I can't deny that it isn't true, but at the same time, I'm in a moral quandary.  Fake it til you make it means me rotely going to synagogue and practicing Judaism that I don't feel so that my son can be force fed information and a worldview that is both his heritage and something I don't wholeheartedly embrace on the off chance that it is his worldview. And he'd be going to please me and his mom, something I don't see as a good parenting tactic.

On the other hand, like it or not, it is our heritage, and he needs to know something about it, and maybe if I struggle with it, then he will think about it.  And what's more Jewish than anguishing over moral quandaries for days?  The Talmud, which is a centuries old interpretation of the Torah, says, "If there are two Jews, there are three opinions."  (Well, I'm not sure if it actually says that, but it ought to.)
The Talmud.  It's all in Hebrew, if you want some English, check out Amazon's The Essential Talmud

At any rate-- my son's Hebrew school has an open house this week, and we are going, whether he likes it or not.  It's about as non-religious as one can get (It's the Workman's Circle school, which is kind of secular Judaism. ) Meanwhile, I'm reluctantly going to synagogue, because I don't want to shut that door.

Got any thoughts or wisdom to lay down on me?  Would love to hear it.

Wishing you all a happy Jewish New Year, an easy fast,  or just a happy day if you are a believer not so much.

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