Judaism

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Lately, I’ve been romancing Judaism. I’m not sure how else to phrase delicately my obsessions with different world traditions, but there you have it.

So much of the concepts I’ve found in Reform Judaism are absolutely magnificent. I’ve learned about Talmud and Zohar. I’ve forced myself to study the Hebrew alphabet which was incredibly difficult to learn- something unusual for someone like myself who’s pretty geared toward languages and especially scripts.

Also, since I can read a good bit of Japanese, it says something that I think Hebrew was more difficult to learn…but then that’s not a fair comparison.

I’ve ended up with a copy of the Tanakh that’s in Hebrew AND English, and I’ve been reading through the Bible this year. I started with my Catholic Edition and then picked up in the Tanakh when it arrived in the mail.

So far, I’ve made it to Deuteronomy.

Let me tell you, I was all like, “Oh, well, God isn’t all that bad in Exodus…” and then I got to Leviticus, and the Crazy Old Testament God appeared. I mean, there was bad stuff in Exodus, no doubt, but Leviticus is where things just go nuts.

More importantly than worrying over that, as an adult, I can see easily that the Scriptures were redacted- I can tell that various places are uneven or out of place. For people who never bother to read the Scriptures, it makes sense to think of it as a seamless whole- and for people who do bother to read the Scriptures, suddenly that inerrancy and seamless whole business falls away for a variety of reasons, uneven pacing, interjection of unrelated material, and isolated events that don’t seem worth mentioning being only a few of them.

Even through my consideration of, “Well, what if I converted to Judaism?” all it took was picking up my copy of The Gnostic Bible and reading just a few commentaries and Scriptures therein to be reminded that, well, I’m Gnostic. It just made sense, and I felt at home.

Of course, Gnosticism also begin with Judaism, so there’s that…

Judaism seems to have a greater degree of praxis that’s accessible to its adherents. The Shabbat blessings on bread and wine and so on? Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.

So yes. I’m romancing Judaism while also remaining confused about why people would bother to take the Bible literally. Then again, that’s only the Written Torah; the Spoken Torah has more information, and I think I read somewhere that the Zohar understands from the get-go that what’s discussed in the Torah isn’t literal but means something else entirely.

God, help me!!!

Steve

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Mytho-Location

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Have you ever watched a movie with friends, and you were all able to declare which character you were in the movie? Or have you read a book and found yourself identifying heavily with one character or another?

Now, let’s take this a step deeper: have you ever read ancient mythology and felt this kind of kindredness to certain characters?

What about the Bible?

I think it’s an experiment worth trying.

I call this process of identifying one’s self in a story as “mytho-location.” That is, the locating of one’s self inside a myth, legend, novel, plot, and what have you.

In Christianity, I daresay the vast majority of people might then read the Bible and identify most heavily with the various Apostles and disciples of Jesus. That is, they are the spectators, the informants, the confidants, of Christ; they pay attention to His Passion, Crucifixion, and Resurrection, but they themselves do not go through it.

Few of us would dare go to the extent of identifying with Christ Himself. Most would shy away from doing this out the outrageous notion of one equating one’s self with God, and others would realize that though this isn’t what one means, identifying with Christ in the Gospel narrative would entail also suffering as He did.

Perhaps we can gather that this is precisely what the Apostles realized later on, as each one of them was martyred- they accepted their identification with Christ and His Passion and endured a fate similar to His.

So anyone who is insane enough to embark on the mystic quest of the good Christian understands that he, too, will be crucified in spirit, and that is not a path for everyone to endure.

Where do you locate yourself in the Christ narrative?

Beaux