Sunday, December 30, 2007

Food for thought -- from the Great Orange Satan

By Conservative Apikoris

I wish to recommend to you a post from an acolyte of the Mighty Lord Kos. This fellow, known to the world as "davefromqueens," has posted the following:

I Am an Agnostic. Are You?

In this post, davefromqueens posts the following:

At the core of agnostic belief are the following principles:

  1. There may be a god, there may not be. I don't know.
  1. If there is a god, it is very likely that this god does not involve itself in human affairs.
  1. All religion is opinion.
  1. No book ever written, in whole and in part, literally or allegorically, was or is the word of god.
  1. Strong moral values are derived from a variety of sources. They include, but are not limited to, one's conscience, personal experience, logic, reason, socratic inquiry, texts, teachings, and other analytical tools available to all human beings.
What I find interesting is that most of these beliefs would characterize a large percentage of the "religious" Jews I know, even many who affiliate "Orthodox." Yet most of them are rather shy about making such beliefs public. "Dave" is on to that, as well, as he asserts that "There are millions of us sitting there quietly in churches, synagogues, and mosques who secretly consider themselves agnostic (or atheist which is different) but are afraid to say so because of fear," and "Don't be surprised if agnostics become the majority of the American population 20 years from now although it's possible that we are already the silent majority."

Some of my comments on Dave's points:

1. I agree. I also believe that if there is a God, and He or She wants us to worship Him/Her, then it's up to God to communicate directly with each of us and not force us to rely on faith or potential charlatans who claim they have the exclusive word of God

2. I don't think there's enough evidence either way to make quite as confident as statement as "Dave" makes. However, if God is involved in human affairs under the current conditions of no communication from God, then God is sinning greatly.

3. Amen, selah!

4. Amen, and I would think that even Chazal would have to grudgingly agree. Otherwise, why would they see the need for oral Torah?

5. I agree with this as well, and see this a a great slap at the likes of Mitt Romney, who claim that you can't have liberty without some sort of "Judaeo-" Christian religion.

And, pace Pirkei Avot, he even has his own version of the three things on which the world stands:

1. "Let it be."
2. The US Bill of Rights and Civil Rights Amendments to the US Constiution, and
3. Sunshine is the Best Disinfectant (I think Unorthodox Jew and Failed Messiah, as well as all the victims of clergy sexual abuse, would agree with that.)

So why, CA, you might say, do you bother with Judaism? Well, I have my reasons:

1. I like the food
2. I like the people (even the Bray of Fundy!)
3. While I use the general principles listed by "Dave" to derive moral values, I do want to honor my heritage by making a point to check in with that heritage. After all, Avraham's skepticism about idolatry can serve as the model for our latter-day skepticism of dogmatic Orthodoxy.
4. Finally, from a commentary on "Ashrei" (Psalm 145) found in "Or Chadash," the commentary on Siddur Sim Shalom compiled by Rabbi Reuven Hammer, on p. 152:
Faced with the scandal of the Holocaust, what should be -- what could be -- (the position of the believer)? His options are limited. He could rebel . . One might continue to pray as before -- forcing God to resemble his attributes. . . . Prayer then becomes a form of protest. And defiance. One calls Him [God] loving -- because He is something else. In other words, prayer becomes a means of sanctifying His Name in spite of the mass graves..."

-Elie Wiesel
Thus, despite the injustices, illogic, and immorality found in Jewish Orthodoxy of all denominations, by God, I will not abandon the Torah, but will make the Torah become a logical, rational force for justice, rationality, and morality.

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