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Amanda

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Tricky religious decisions [Jun. 5th, 2006|11:49 am]
Amanda
[Current Mood |contemplativecontemplative]

I've been trying to find a religion that suits me for many years now. I know I believe there's something out there that made all this happen, and I am grateful to this "Something" every day of my life. I also feel that through every mistake comes learning, and through this learning comes the constant growth of our wisdom and selves. This seems, to me, to embody the meaning of life itself. I've sought to make the world a better place, and my own self a better person, through this learning. Beyond that, I haven't been a religious person because I've always feared being brainwashed and integrated into a church beyond escape...you know, falling victim to their little mind-games and becoming slave to a God entirely different than the one I've always believed in.
Yet, I've been halfheartedly researching religions for quite some time. Trying to see if any of them match up to what I believe. Because really, I'd like to discuss my feelings with other people. If only I could find which people have similar feelings!

And now we come to the real point of this entry:


Ari's Jewish, as most of you know. In the past I'd neglected to research Judaism because I didn't know much about it and knew practically no one who was Jewish at the time. From what I'd heard of it, I saw nothing I disagreed with and I really could relate to a lot of the basic philosophies. Yet...it's more than a religion, it's a society and a heritage and a People and a culture...and that culture still is one that kinda makes me feel like an outsider. Most are born into it, it has its own languages and values and everything else. It's so very old and established and like nothing else anywhere, and that made it feel naturally off-limits for my consideration.

But now...the more I hear of it, the more sense it makes to me and the more I agree with its beliefs and teachings. Most of this exposure has been from Ari, though I have been reading on it from Ellen's book collection. Of course, if I really want to be with Ari I need to at least consider it. But it's against their rules to persuade anyone to convert to Judaism, and someone should never convert for someone else. These are my own personal rules as well. NO ONE should be persuaded to convert to anything. Plus...I'm not Jewish, yet he's still in love with me. I'm not Jewish, and yet his family has gladly welcomed me into their home. So it's not like it's the end of the world if I choose not to convert.
I want to stay as far away from persuasion as possible, too...if I do this, it's gonna be for me. If Ari and I ever were to break up (which would be damn awful, but I have to be sensible and know it could happen) and I had already converted, I want to make sure that it's something true enough to me that I would follow it afterwards, regardless of whether I'm always with him. If I go over into a religion, it's for life as far as I'm concerned. I don't want to abandon it on a whim. And I only will choose it when I am damn sure that it's what I want to do, but I can't be completely sure of this until I know enough to make a qualified decision.
So, I've been researching. I went to synagogue with them on Friday, to see what it is like...and it was very very nice. Much nicer than I'd expected any religious event to be. Friendly people and very beautiful, emotional singing (though I of course couldn't understand a word lol), and everything I read in the book I agreed with.

I'm just really concerned that if I do convert, people will assume I did because of Ari and think less of me for it. Doing it because of Ari is the one thing I'm trying to be careful enough to avoid. I would never go into a religion I didn't agree with just because of someone I'm with. I've just gotten the opportunity to consider it through knowing him.
After all....If Ari was a Christian, I wouldn't become a Christian because of him. If Ari was a Muslim, I wouldn't become a Muslim because of him. If Ari was a Scientologist, I wouldn't become a Scientologist because of him. I don't agree with these religions in any way, shape or form...so why would I sacrifice my own beliefs just to match his?
But, Judaism...from what I've learned and am continuing to learn, it continues to be something I really agree with, and encourages everything I find it natural to encourage. In the vast scope of things I still know very little about it, but the more I learn of it the more this can be amended.

So all I'm saying is...I'll continue to learn and see what happens. Whatever decision I make won't be made anytime soon.
What do you think of all this?
LinkReply

Comments:
[User Picture]From: minuet1965
2006-06-05 05:02 pm (UTC)
Hey,
If I had a choice I would either choose to convert to Buddhism or Judaism.
I did a lot of research on Judaism and Islam and while I can't remember everything I learned I leaned toward buddhism.

I don't think you should really give a rip what anyone thinks about WHY you converted to Judaism, if you do, it really doesn't matter what they think its what it means to you.

Good luck in your decision.
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[User Picture]From: glacier_kitty
2006-06-05 05:03 pm (UTC)
Follow your heart, and do what's right :) I'll still be your friend no matter what religion you choose
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[User Picture]From: palmer_kun
2006-06-05 10:47 pm (UTC)
Here's my simple answer.

Go talk to a Rabbi about it.

Seriously, he can answer any concerns you have better than we can.

The one thing to watch out for is that the Rabbi WILL go out of his way to discourage you from converting, and make it a hassle.

If you're serious about converting, you'll push on despite that. Which is the point of it.
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[User Picture]From: una_ragazza_o
2006-06-05 11:00 pm (UTC)
If you are not Jewish, it is possibly not your religion, not only because it is really more than a religion, but heritage and culture, but also because non-Jewish in Judaism are considered lower creatures, animals, aswritten in some of their books ( though not all of the ordinary Jews may know it as they don't study Judaism profoundly ). Maybe some jews have good attitude towards some non-jewish people, but in Judaistic books it is written that they should harm al the non-jews and despice them. The purpose of this religion is the salvation of the jewish nation.
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[User Picture]From: rewhite
2006-06-06 01:22 pm (UTC)
Wrong. I don't know where you got that BS, but you're wrong. I studied Judaism in-depth for ten years, and have continued my studies of it, though not as strenuously, since then.
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[User Picture]From: una_ragazza_o
2006-06-06 10:23 pm (UTC)
It iswritten in the Jewish book Shulkhan Arukh, that children study in eshivas.
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[User Picture]From: rewhite
2006-06-07 01:19 pm (UTC)
I may not have attended Yeshiva, but I was in Jewish day school for ten years, and had rabbinics classes. I studied the Shulkhan Orekh, and I will tell you right now, it is a compendium of rules and procedures for how to be faithful. To translate the title, it means 'the set table', stating that Judaism is a feast to partake of. We are only supposed to lead the world to that feast, and to teach them table manners. You have far fewer rules than we are supposed to follow. While we are equals, we were simply chosen to be an example of faith and behavior. Some people may think it's because we were somehow better. I suspect God wanted a challenge, what with how stubborn we are.

Oh, and thank you for insulting my aunt, somebody who comments on this, my girlfriend's journal, quite often. It is nice to see how attentive you are.
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[User Picture]From: una_ragazza_o
2006-06-07 07:55 pm (UTC)
Yes, exactly. And there are also rules for treating non-Jewish people there, among others. If you and your relatives want to be insulted, you, of course, can be. But I haven't said that I agree with this words.
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[User Picture]From: rewhite
2006-06-08 04:16 am (UTC)
Yes, there are, though I'll add that what little there is, is a lot more tolerant than that which the other two major religions have. Islam goes without saying, but do I have to remind you of your Inquisition?
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[User Picture]From: una_ragazza_o
2006-06-09 12:16 am (UTC)
In Koran there is another division: between muslims and non-muslims. Nationality doesn't matter. Not to say I like this separation though :) As for remembering the inquisition, it is the favourite argument of muslims when someone begins to speak about the terrorism and all the stuff written in Koran about the unfaithful. But they forget that it is not a natural behaviour of all Christians, that was just an occurence that took place in Western Europe in the Middle Ages. It was inspired by the bishops in order to lay their hands on the lands and real estate of executed people. And if you read the Bible you will not find there anything that tells to kill all the heretics or perform inquisition. So later the Catholic Church has condemned the inquisition.
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[User Picture]From: rewhite
2006-06-09 05:08 am (UTC)
Every religion goes through a phase where it wants to take over the world. Our brief phase took place shortly before the Romans took over. It was almost immidately frowned upon, and has been a source of shame since then. Christians had a far longer and far more successful period of internal and external conquest. You dominated Europe and beyond for centuries. It is only in the last few decades that your actions have become a source of shame. For example, the Spanish Edict of Expulsion was, de jure (though not de facto), in effect from 1492 until 1969, when it was formally repealed. The Inquisition was not terminated until well into the 19th century. It is unfair to compare our few decades of imperialist delusions followed by shame with your centuries of violence, mass murder, and imperialist realizations.

It just so happens that we live in a time when Islam is going through the same things both of our religions once did. When they suffer a terrible loss, it will end, just as the loss of our Homeland ended our delusions, and the loss of your unity ended your crusades. Perhaps it will take the loss of Mecca to bring the Islamists into line, but the only way to civilize them is at gunpoint.
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[User Picture]From: sweetobsession_
2006-06-20 10:22 pm (UTC)
I'm not even going to get into this discussion about religion but please do not speak about Islam unless you know exactly what you're talking about. "Islam goes without saying"? Why are you making such statements about another religion as if they were fact?

I don't mean to offend you or your own religion in any way, I am just defending mine (as you have yours as well). Hope you understand.
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From: (Anonymous)
2006-06-07 04:21 am (UTC)
Wrong. But it's nice of you to share your prejudice with everyone.

-TLB
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[User Picture]From: una_ragazza_o
2006-06-07 05:37 am (UTC)
Unfortunately, it is not my prejudice. In Russian LJ we have a proverb: anonymous in LJ is worse than a passive gay in the prison.
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From: (Anonymous)
2006-06-07 05:28 pm (UTC)
Oh.......I gotcha. I'm not actually anonymous although I'm not a member of LJ. I'm Amanda's boyfriend's aunt and although other posters might not know that, Amanda and Ari do.

As for your statements...if you aren't a scholar who has studied the work in the original language then I'd tend not to put much faith in your interpretation. Have a nice day.

-TLB
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[User Picture]From: una_ragazza_o
2006-06-07 09:43 pm (UTC)
I didn't mean to insult you. As I have already told to Matt, I don't tend to agree with this statement. But anonymous really mostly come to tell anything bad, though it happens that people just don't have an account in LJ. As for studying the books in the original language, it means that we Christians can't put much faith in what is told in the Bible, because we are not scholars who have studied it in the original language. And that goes for non-arabic Muslims also. So what are the translators for. Have a nice day.
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From: (Anonymous)
2006-06-08 12:25 am (UTC)
Thank you both (you and A.) for your concern but I'm just fine. :o)

I'm anonymous because I don't LJ except for Amanda's fabulous page, but I can understand the concern against anonymous visitors who sweep in and attack.

You wrote <
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Thank you both (you and A.) for your concern but I'm just fine. :o)

I'm anonymous because I don't LJ except for Amanda's fabulous page, but I can understand the concern against anonymous visitors who sweep in and attack.

You wrote <<As for studying the books in the original language, it means that we Christians can't put much faith in what is told in the Bible, because we are not scholars who have studied it in the original language. And that goes for non-arabic Muslims also.>> And my response is: YES!

-TLB

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[User Picture]From: rewhite
2006-06-08 04:12 am (UTC)
That's right, you can't put much faith in your Bible. The mistranslations I have seen are appalling. For example, your Bible says that the universe was created in seven days, a laughable concept. At one point, your Bible would have said that Moses descended the Mountain with horns, not rays of light, emanating from his countenance. Again, a stupid mistake in translation.

Of course, noting that you are Christian, I feel I might as well bring up some of the fundamental inconsistencies in your addendum (that is, the New Testament) to the Bible.

First, I would like to point out that, due to weakness in translation, Mary was morphed from a "maiden" to a "virgin". Second, I would like to point out that the Anointed One (messiah) is supposed to be of the House of David. Jesus was not, because Joseph was not his father, and God was definitely not descended from David.

After all, regardless of who or Who impregnated Mary, Jesus was still an illegitimate child. If God was responsible, He committed what was, biblically, considered adultery, (yes, adultery included anybody 'knowing' a married woman), one of the only three crimes that we are forbidden to commit, even on pain of death. (The other two are murder and idolatry.) I like to think that my God does not sin, nor does He engage in such base acts.

Don't even think of arguing that Jesus was adopted into the House of David. Even if Joseph had adopted him, Jesus still would not have been a part of the House of David. My father converted to Judaism, and neither he nor I can be called Yehudim because we have no tribal affiliation to Judah. Tribal affiliation is passed from father to child as religion is passed from mother to child. My father is an Abrahamite, and I am a Levite with no privilege, on account of my mother being of the House of Aaron, and thus both a Cohen and a Levite, Levi being the tribe. While you could adopt a person in most manners, it simply couldn't be that somebody was adopted into a lineage. It could happen no more than me adopting a blue eyed child and giving them my brown eyes.

Yours is a house built on sand; mine is a house built on rock, firm in logic, internally and externally. I am not fond of having to tear into anothers belief, but I am sick of your anti-Semitism.
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[User Picture]From: una_ragazza_o
2006-06-09 01:25 am (UTC)
Now you would accuse me of antisemitism, that is funny, ha-ha! Notice that I haven't yet said anything bad about Jews or even their religion, unlike you, who have said a lot of bad things about Christianity. So OK, you are anti-Christian, I see that you hate Christianity and Christians like all Judaists, because you think that we believe in wrong messiah and you are still waiting for yours. But even if I had said anything badabout Judaism, I wouldn't have been an antisemite, because an antisemite is someone who is against the semitic nations and not some religion. But I'm not offended, you can go on calling me an antisemite if you think so, I'm just pointing out that you are wrong. Considering all the stuff written by you about the Bible. It is not the mistranslations, you know. It is not the mistranslation that Jesus Christ is a messiah. He is not for you, Jews, but he is for us, Christians. What is written in the New Testament, cancels the things written in the Old one. In the Old Testament it is written: eye for eye, tooth for tooth, and in the New it is written: forgive your enemies. As I see from what you have written, you don't believe in Christ as a messiah, because he is not of the House of David. For you Jews the descencion is very important as I see from what you have written about your family. But that was what I was talking about in my first comment. The origin is a very important thing in your religion, but when it is I, not you, who says that, it makes you go mad and think that I'm antisemitic. Your messiah is a saviour of Jews, of those who believe in Old Testament. Our messiah is a saviour of the human soul, of the souls of everyone believing in the New Testament. Why there is so much hatred and disrespect to our religion in your words, we have nothing to divide. You have your messiah, we have ours. For us Christians and for our God the origin of Christ and Christians doesn't matter. The thing that matters is the faith and the good deeds. That's it. Here ( and anywhere ) I'm not going to convert anyone to Christianity, just answering all your accusations of Christians and our beliefs. As for creating the world in seven days, I see nothing funny about it. Maybe you are used to taking the words from religious books literally, but in fact they often contain metaphores and allegories. Seven days are not our human seven days, they are seven periods, seven God's days. Unlike you, I'm not trying to show that our God is better than yours and I don't disrespect Judaism. The aim of my comment was to show that our religions are very different and one has to study profoundly the main religious books and documents of both and decide what suits him or her most: the spirit or the tradition, the old or the new, before making a choice.
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From: (Anonymous)
2006-06-09 05:40 am (UTC)
This is my last response to you. You write "in Judaistic books it is written that they should harm al the non-jews and despice them" and then comment that you said nothing negative or false about Jews? If you are such an 'authority' about your own religion why not stick to that topic. Your motives are clear, no matter how nicely you try to wrap them and how much verbage you use.

-TLB (over and out)
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[User Picture]From: rewhite
2006-06-09 11:25 am (UTC)
You're floundering.

The accusation that we treat those of other faiths as inhuman, or as you so eloquently put it "lower creatures" is a typical forerunner to far worse accusations. By making it seem, falsely, no less, that we place ourselves on an ivory tower, not just in the sense that we hold ourselves to a higher standard, but that we question the humanity of those not of our people, you begin to draw dangerous negative sentiments towards us. Such sentiments as you have expressed are always forerunners of far worse. Your comments may be called anti-Semitic as much as a pre-cancerous tumor may be considered cancerous: it isn't yet, but, if left unchecked, it will become so.

"…like all Judaists…" That's a very dangerous generalized statement. Am I to assume that you have spoken with all Jews? Based on some of your statements, I am apt to believe that you have spoken with very few, if any, and that they have, unfortunately, not been the best representatives of us that they ought be. Even so, I cannot blame them, for they quite possibly were as incited by your accusatory remarks as I was, and so responded harshly as I have. I carry no hate towards Christians, though I am entirely willing to expose their beliefs to the test of logic if they have cast dangerous aspersions against my people. I admit, it's fun in a cruel sort of way, a bit like salt on slugs, but unlike the slugs, you deserve it. In person, however, obfuscation is far more difficult. Your rambling on about the messiah question would not have held water in person.

This, of course, brings me to address your long, and yes, I mean long as in For God's sake, woman! Use the carriage return! It's there for a reason., and occasionally obtuse rant about the the messiah question.

"Considering all the stuff written by you about the Bible. It is not the mistranslations, you know. It is not the mistranslation that Jesus Christ is a messiah. " That doesn't even make sense. I realize that Russian is a language of form and that English is a language of order, but even taking into account the mistakes I so often hear made by my friends who escaped here from the Soviet Union, I cannot make heads nor tails of it. The best that I can see is that you might be saying that I said that Jesus being called the messiah was the result of a mistranslation. If that is the case, I made no such claim. Jesus was rendered into a messiah by his apostles. Peter was likely the most influential in the editing of that which was written about the man, and played a large role in turning Jesus into a devotional idol that could be used to spread the then heavily interconnected Judeo-Christian ideals among the Nations.

"What is written in the New Testament, cancels the things written in the Old one." Let me tell you of two epithets of God: God of Laws and God of Covenants. No God of Covenants would break the covenants of the Bible. The Christian addendum to the Bible does not and cannot cancel out anything in the Bible. The Bible is a codified document. lo b'shamaim hi. It is not in the heavens. God gave us the Bible, and tasked us with interpreting it, for better or for worse. (From this arises the situation when the Rabbis outvoted God.) Because God gave us the Bible, God gave up authority over the Bible. Because the Rabbis decided that the Bible was not to be changed, and because the Bible commands us to obey our leaders, the Bible is unchangeable, by both God and Man. If your Christian addendum to the Bible is to be taken seriously, then it must be noted, in all seriousness, that God has breeched the contract with which we are bound to Him, something on which He rested the Glory of His Name. Doubly so, since the Glory that makes up God's Crown is Israel.
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[User Picture]From: rewhite
2006-06-09 11:26 am (UTC)
"For you Jews the descencion is very important as I see from what you have written about your family. But that was what I was talking about in my first comment. The origin is a very important thing in your religion, but when it is I, not you, who says that, it makes you go mad and think that I'm antisemitic." The only status difference that I have between me and anybody else is simply in whether I'm to say the blessing on the first, second, or third and beyond Torah reading. It also pertains as to whether I'm allowed to wash the hands of a Cohen during the services on the holiest day of the year. The only applications of this information are so minor as to be almost negligible. They are subtleties of ritual. In any other context, it's meaningless to say that I'm not a member of the Tribe of Judah. A friend of mine is of the Tribe of Benjamin, and of the House of David. All that means is that she's a candidate for giving birth to the Anointed One, and that she would be royalty when the House of David is restored as the monarchy.

What I got riled up over had nothing to do with lineages because your remark had nothing to do with lineages. It's nice to have a nice lineage. My family prizes the fact that we are descendant of the scribe of the Baal Shem Tov. Your comment was an insinuation that my people believe in their own superiority so much that they find those of other religions to be animal-like. That is not accusing us of being wrapped up in genealogy, which we are. That is anti-Semitism.

"Your messiah is a saviour of Jews, of those who believe in Old Testament. Our messiah is a saviour of the human soul, of the souls of everyone believing in the New Testament." Our Anointed One will not be a savior, he will be a leader. A leader's task is always to deliver his people. Your messiah is a fabrication of Peter, a tapestry of lies and legends woven around a great and progressive rabbi. The human soul can only be saved by the person to whom it belongs; forgiveness can only be received from the person who was wronged. At the end of life, two angels will pass the soul of the person who is being judged back and forth between them. One angel plucks off a good deed, the other plucks off a bad deed. What is left at the end is weighed. Only that is judged, and then the soul's seating in God's Court is determined.

"Maybe you are used to taking the words from religious books literally…" Yes! Yes, I am. In the language in which I have studied it, it makes perfect sense. "In the first, God created that which is above and that which is tangible. All was ranked chaos..." or "Day One: God said, "Energy, exist" and there was energy. God saw the energy was fitting, so He divided between light and dark." It makes far more sense than the more typical translations I have read, but yet does not match the elegance and levels of meaning inherent in the original text.

"For us Christians and for our God the origin of Christ and Christians doesn't matter. The thing that matters is the faith and the good deeds." Faith in the Divine, or faith in your Christ? An important distinction. Many Christians would think me condemned to Hell for my not believing in God. Since you are not complete evil (I hope), you would not be faced with oblivion. The worst that could happen to you is having a 'seat' very distant from God. What the afterlife of a religion promises to those of other religions is often a very good measure of that religion.

"Unlike you, I'm not trying to show that our God is better than yours and I don't disrespect Judaism." I never took up the question of whose god is better, as the question is one that can never be addressed when one is honest to ones own faith. The crux of my argument is that my belief system has sound internal logic whereas yours has countless internal paradoxes.
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[User Picture]From: rewhite
2006-06-09 11:27 am (UTC)
"Why there is so much hatred and disrespect to our religion in your words, we have nothing to divide." "The aim of my comment was to show that our religions are very different…" First of all, you contradicted yourself. Second of all, people in glass houses ought not throw stones. Your original comment cast dangerous aspersions against Judaism. You were given opportunity enough to recant, to bring your statements in line with truth. You chose to stick by your guns; I chose to get mine out of the closet. You hit me; I hit back. Tough. Measure the disrespect I showed towards Christianity with what you showed towards me. I could walk around, poking holes with logic through all sorts of people's beliefs. I don't do that because I don't want to be constantly embroiled and embattled. I reserve it for two sorts: evangelicals who won't stop and anti-Semites such as yourself.

Sorry, character limit was getting…restrictive.
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[User Picture]From: thickerthanair
2006-06-06 05:31 am (UTC)
converting is difficult, but possible. i know people who have done it.

being a jew is awesome :)
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[User Picture]From: stevefarrell
2006-06-06 08:37 pm (UTC)
It goes without saying that I've been through this same thing myself, the whole 'what the hell religion am I anyway?' thing. I did look into Judaism and was quite taken with the Liberal version, but finding a rabbi around here was next to impossible.

If your natural instinct is towards Judaism (irregardless of Ari's religion), then you should read up on it, and talk to a rabbi, which I keep almost typing as 'rabbit' but that would be silly. From what I know of conversion, it's pretty intense, but at least you wouldn't have to be circumcised.

What I would do is make a list of *exactly* what you believe - irregardless of any religion - and then see which one (if any) it most closely matches. That involves a bit of research, and it can end up a mixture of several things. Mostly, I'm a Gnostic Christian, but I'm also a Catholic, a Theosophist and a Greek/Sumerian pagan. At the end of the day, it's all one thing anyway - it's about the sun and the universe, the sustainers and creators of all life on earth and on other worlds. So there that is.
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From: treepatter
2006-06-07 01:29 am (UTC)
Do you need a "label" to defne yourself, and your actions?

Before you even consider converting, first spend some time contemplating what it means to you to be "religious".
Then ask yourself if organized religions have anything to do with that definition.
I would also spend some time thinking about the effects and actions of organized religions throughout history, and whether or not you wish to support/be a part of that.
Good luck.
:)
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