Wednesday, 25 February 2009

XTC-Dear God

Bom quem mora aqui em Dubai e que enfrentou o periodo de Observancias deles, eu lembrei que no Brasil apos o Carnaval vem as "observancias" deste periodo, mais eu gostaria de compartilhar este texto de um amigo meu, lembrando que nao defendo nenhum ortodoxo ou conservativo, pois para mim existe apenas um Ser Superior, seja aonde estivermos.

"So I have been thinking about why I keep the religious observances that I do. Is it because I fear God and believe he will punish me if I don't follow these rules? No. I really don't fear God. That kind of mindset has never figured into my life. I may joke to myself, if I'm running late and miss a subway train, that God hates me but it's more an expression of frustration than any firm conviction. I'm not sure God has any opinion on me either way. Its never really crossed my mind. My overall assumption is that as long as I have a pulse and respiration, I've managed to avoid pissing off any supreme being.

Now about this whole God business. I was raised a Jew. I've always had an affinity for the Jewish religious practices, and so to me it only makes sense for me to manifest my desire to connect to whatever divine presence there is in the world through that context. It is the one I know best and one that I enjoy pursuing. This by no means implies that I believe that the only correct way in which one may pursue such a connection. If you believe in a God who died for your sins, or in a pantheon of Gods and Goddesses, or some divine Earth Mother, more power to you. Just don't tell me that I'm wrong. And that goes for those of you who don't believe in any divine presence at all. That is also fine and dandy with me. If you discount any notion of a higher being, I totally accept and respect your belief or lack thereof. But again, don't tell me that I'm wrong. In either case my response to you will be two-fold: Fuck. You.

In my opinion religious bigotry does not have to possess a spiritual aspect. If you insist that the only way to connect to God is through Christ, and that all others are wrong, you are a bigot. AND if you believe that there is no God, and insist that any one who believes in God is wrong, you are a bigot. There is no difference in my mind.

But back to me. Why do I deny myself the glory that is bacon? Why do I turn down delicious brownies one entire week every year? After thinking long and hard about it I realized - and this may be difficult for some of you to wrap your heads around - it is because it makes me happy.

Being observant to the degree that I do makes me happy. It helps me to define who I want to be in this world. I want to be someone who has boundaries. I want to be someone who has practices that perhaps set me apart from the majority. I like the feeling that a code that I live by is part of a heritage that stretches back thousands of years. That some small aspect of who I am is part of a flame that has been carried forward despite almost insurmountable odds. I take pride in demonstrating who I am not just through humor and certain genetic features, but through my daily actions.

In the same way that I derive pleasure from helping strangers or giving up my seat to old women, I derive pleasure in knowing that something as simple as making sure I feed my pets before I eat means I am honoring my tradition (its true, it's listed as a mitzvah) and am in some way making the universe a more harmonious place. I also love the underlying belief that one of the main purposes of Jewish religious observance should be Tikkun Olum, which means Healing the World. I like the idea of that.

Do I believe in God? That's a tricky question. Do I believe in a white-bearded guy sitting up somewhere in a cloud bank in the sky watching me masturbate and writing it down in red pen in a giant ledger? No. Do I believe that there is a force or energy in the universe that is in some way responsible for my existence and that in some way has an impact on my life and what happens to me? I think so. Do I have a clear idea of how this relationship works? Not even remotely. I certainly don't believe it is a cause-and-effect relationship. I don't believe that if I commit a "sin" today that by tomorrow some form of lightning bolt will strike me. But I do believe that any negative activity that I pursue in this world will in some way impact my life in some indeterminate way at some point in the future. The same holds true for whatever positive energy I am able to create through my actions. So perhaps I believe in a holistic type of universe, but one in which some higher power holds eventual authority.

But instead of pursuing some holistic expression of my belief, I choose to express it through the traditions and religious practices of the faith I was raised in, which happens to be Judaism. That's really all there is to it.

Oh, and about that whole "chosen people" thing. From my understanding, this means that we were chosen to follow a rather stringent collection of guidelines in order to set an example for humanity; to shine a light of piousness and decency into the world. Whether we as a people are living up to that responsibility? That is wide open for debate, but what it doesn't mean is that we were chosen simply because we were "all that." It doesn't imply superiority as much as it implies a responsiblity to uphold certain standards. So any Jew who wields the moniker of the chosen people as a cudgel is a putz as far as I am concerned.

I guess that pretty much covers it. I admit I get a bit frustrated when I am out to dinner with friends and they tease me about my declination to join them in an appetizer of calamari, accusing me of fearing some "invisible scary ghost in the sky" or a "flying spaghetti monster." Oh ha ha ha. Please stop. My sides, they ache. I do it because I want to, not because I am cowering inside about the possibility of some powerful being smiting me..."

Thank's a David, Brooklyn, NYC.

Enfim that's all. E que saudades de Stony Brook...

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