Monday, February 11, 2002

Now instead of studying religion we embrace a nebulous concept called "spirituality." For the life of me I have never been able to figure out exactly what spirituality is. I think that is the point. It is vague enough to cover anything, avoids specific reference to G-d, and is highly customizable. It is the ultimate in political correctness. Today, unless you are a priest or a Muslim, it is somewhat impolite to show your colors by wearing religious garb. Orthodox Jews, and others who wear particular clothing with a religious meaning, are rarely seen outside the confines of large urban areas. Even then they are dismissed as kooks or quaint curiosities. I kind of admire Muslims for the fact that even after September 11th the are not too shy to signify who they are by what they wear. My daughter attended a Catholic elementary school (that my friends is a LONG story), and despite the fact that she scored 25 on the ACT in 7th grade she is almost completely ignorant about the Bible. She is also somewhat puzzled as to what Catholicism is all about even though she had a religion class.
Religion has become associated with every vile, and corrupt thing that has ever transpired. We look at the excesses of the Catholic Church and dismiss it's legitimacy. We experience the radical extremism in the Muslim world and suspect fundamental flaws in their faith. Of course we blame Jews for just about everything (I would really like to compile a list of all the things Jews have ever been blamed for and post it here). It is like blaming radioactivity for Hiroshima.
I think the thing that did religion in was "us" versus "them." Us is right, and those fellows over there are heretics, unbelievers, goy, or infidels. Since the others are unbelievers they must either be converted or killed. At the very least we should walk on the other side of the street from them. Although we might not care who is elected for office, we will become hysterically argumentative about how many angels can dance on the point of a needle. Too often we have substituted zealousness for faith. G-d save us from the fanatics of all faiths.
By their fruit you shall know them. That is one of the wisest sayings I have ever heard. Although a tree may bear some bad fruit, or even have a bad year, over time a good tree will be true to its nature and bear a preponderance of quality fruit over bad. One final thing. It has become a truism that we should avoid all talk of religion. Maybe the opposite is true, and what we really need is to learn how to talk about it.

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