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from [livejournal.com profile] a_white_rain, as "things that bother me in religious debate" and they do me, too:



  • Western Christianity =/= EVERY RELIGION IN THE WORLD OMG. In fact, Western Christianity can be pretty diverse.


  • Lets not throw Jews and Judaism under the bus by calling the so-called Old Testament God and evil dick without acknowledging the entire Hebrew Bible, which has more than Job as a story.


  • The stories of the bible belong to three religions and a few others that don't quite fall neatly into the umbrella of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity and all of them interact with these stories in different ways. Acknowledging that won't kill you.


  • Religion is about community and culture as much as it's about the social roles it plays in life. Religion has always evolved. Christians aren't being cowards when they don't take the book literally. Nor are they cherry picking. In fact, they're actually acting as earlier Christians and Jews did by not taking the stories literally.


  • Not all religions have a central text.


  • Not all religions are big on faith, much less the way Christians define it.


  • Not all religions have a God.

salinea: (Default)
There's a gorgeous post :Whose story are they by [livejournal.com profile] nextian, about being Jewish and listening to Christian readings of our holy books. (I would also add, listening to Atheist from a Christian background read to our holy books, although the writer doesn't, because that's one of the thing that often makes me flinch when I read discussions on religion and atheism).


It was the second time I'd read a naked Bible, a text without extensive annotation and commentary, without doing straight-up line searches online. It looked rude, or like I was missing half the story. I'm Reform, and I don't believe that the Talmud came down to us from sacred inspiration (Rebecca was three years old? Please, even the Talmudic scholars disagreed on that one), but -- without years of argument and debate surrounding every line, how were you supposed to work past your first assumption about the text? How were you supposed to understand what it meant to your fathers, to those of your mothers who snuck looks at the stories, to Maimonides in Al-Andalus and to Akiva who didn't think much of Jesus when he met him and to the thousands of years of commentators thinking under the yoke of the Christian world?

How was I supposed to sit in class and listen to people say, Maybe we're just not supposed to understand the contradictions in the text?

Or to the new grad student teacher, a Jew himself, telling me, We try to read the text in isolation here?

What does that even mean?








Prayers

1 Jun 2008 03:54 pm
salinea: (Default)
Do you think you need to believe in God to pray?

Sometimes, I want to pray for something, but because I'm agnostic, I kinda feel awkward.

In Zelazny's Creatures of Light and Darkness, there's this agnostic prayer :

Insofar as I may be heard by anything, which may or may not care what I say, I ask, if it matters, that you be forgiven for anything you may have done or failed to do which requires forgiveness. Conversely, if not forgiveness but something else may be required to insure any possible benefit for which you may be eligible after the destruction of your body, I ask that this, whatever it may be, be granted or withheld, as the case may be, in such a manner as to insure your receiving said benefit. I ask this in my capacity as your elected intermediary between yourself and that which may not be yourself, but which may have an interest in the matter of your receiving as much as it is possible for you to receive of this thing, and which may in some way be influenced by this ceremony. Amen.


which I think is awesome. First because it's hilarious, second because "yay, agnostic prayer". The idea hat yes, you can express something religiously without renuncing what being agnostic means, and you can do beautifully. Which is odd, I don't think many people see agnosticism as a commitment. I mean, even atheism is more of a pronounciation of faith (in the non existence of God) than agnosticism. But, if I call myself an agnostic that's because for me it's the position I can hold which is the most honnest with myself. And that honnesty, of sincerity is something important for me.

So there's prayers as rituals. As parts in ceremonies in formalized religions. I never have any problems with those, because I see themas a commitment to a community, to its forms and culture. And judaism as a cultural identity, and belonging to the jewish community is something that's important for me.
Or if I'm there as a guest to a religious ceremony which I don't belong to, I see that as a simple form of respect and politeness to my hosts.
So I don't think you need to believe in G*d for those prayers.

There's the time when it's an expression of caring and wishing well someone. Well, usually I just write/thing "sending positive thoughts to you" or "I hope things are going to improve for you". Sometimes I don't really put it into words. But some people would say "I pray for your wel being". So, is that a prayer?

There's when you look around you, and the world is beautiful, and people are many, diverse, rich, and they all feel and act, and you're overwhelmed with it and you just want to say "thank you, thank you". I don't think I need to believe in God to be grateful to be alive and to live in the world. Because that expression is its own goal, you know? And I don't really always put it into words either, but it does feel like a religious feeling in a way.

Then... that's what I was getting earlier. I wanted a prayer to say "help me not being arrogant, self righteous and patronizing, and not thinking I know better than others." It could be anything of course; about selfishness, or courage, or to escape self loathing and despair. Anything about moral strength or wisdom. It's more of a resolution or a vow you make to oneself, so you don't really need to believe that something out there will help you with that, because it's really about the fact that expressing this resolution helps you holding it, right? Putting it into forms is helpful, is meaningful.

Any thoughts?
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[livejournal.com profile] mechaieh posted a transcript of the sermon she gave at her Unitarian Church on the subject of bisexuality

Here's the blurb :

"Ambisexuality"

As individuals whose sexual preferences do not fit neatly within traditional "either-or," "all-or-nothing" beliefs about relationships, bisexuals often face unflattering assumptions about their personalities and morals -- including negative perceptions about their refusal to declare or accept what seems to many to be a simple choice. As individuals whose spiritual needs do not fit neatly within traditional "either-or," "all-or-nothing" beliefs about creeds and covenants, Unitarian Universalists often encounter unflattering assumptions about their personalities and morals -- especially perceptions about their refusal to declare or accept what seems to many to be a simple choice. This morning, we will take a look at how to welcome ambiguity and complexity, and why bearing witness matters so much.

Go read the full transcript here

I find this subject fascinating, not only the topic of bisexuality (which [livejournal.com profile] mechaieh spoke about wonderfully) , but the idea of comparing sexual orientation with other identity categorizations and when they are or appear too vague, or too "in-between" and the difficulties and prejudices people face because of that.

[livejournal.com profile] skuldchan's rant about gender identities answering an article about "feminized male" in Japan makes me think along the same way as well.

As humans we tend to think in oppositions. We classify everything around us. Dark or light, female or male, dead or alive, yin or yang, good or bad, old or young, hot or cold, wet or dry etc. Symbolical systems of categorization almost always end up pairing things in opposites.
There's a certain laziness in this way of thinking that often lend itself to easy amalgams. Such as thinking that anything that doesn't belong to one category, must belong to the other one. And that something that does belong to one category, cannot belong to the other.

long rambling that might or might not be relevent )
salinea: (Default)
When I was about 15 years old and I was just getting seriously into Science Fiction and Fantasy and into the internet active fandom side of them, I read Roger Zelazny's Amber cycle serie and loved it. When I was finished however I felt frustrated. The ending left too many issues hanging, too many threads untied. And they would never be completed because Zelazny had died. I wanted more; I wanted to keep exploring this universe, to keep shedding more light onto the other characters' side of things and all the countless possibilities glimpsed from the text, so I went ahunting on the internet, and...

From where I started with this you would think I would find fanfics, wouldn't you ?

Well, actually what I found was Roleplaying Games, specifically Eric Wujcik's Amber Diceless Roleplaying Game. Imagine, make up your own Amberite Prince character, and start exploring this world all by yourself, interacting with the other characters etc. I was thrilled ! As things went, it took me two years to actually get into the RPG crowd and start playing regularly. But my point here is : the reason I got into RPGs were exactly the same I find Fanfics so interesting.

Given how obvious the similarities of the pull for both seem to me, you can imagine I was surprised to see how little the actors of either cross over to the other. At first glimpse at my flist, I can find only about 5 or 6 people I know who are interested and active in both Fanfics and RPGs* (over a flist of 110 with lots of people into fanfics). Why were the two so uninvolved with each others ? Is it a case of 'parallel evolution' ? Are there more truly different than they look to me ? Is it merely a question of male fen vs female fen ?)

* : (By RPGs, for the purpose of this essay, I'm going to mean merely Roleplaying Game featuring rules, how light they are, and often a setting, either commercialy published or amateurs, and meant to be played in live in small groups involving one or several player and a game master.
The other kind of roleplay, that is indeed pretty popular among the fandom crowd, which involves the roleplay of existing or original character set in a fictionnal canon world with little to no rules but politeness and mostly played online, I'm going to call Freestyle Roleplay or FRP.)



cut for the extremely long and rambly essay )
salinea: (Default)
Fire and foremost, a very happy birthday to [livejournal.com profile] shineko the coolest fandom mommie ever ! I hope your day is going on wonderfully Shi dear and may all good things happen to you ♥


My boyfriend is coming on Tuesday morning. Which means I have to move in my appartment to recieve him then... hehehe not everything is quite ready (still no fridge among other things) so it's going to be... interesting. As well as the fact that I couldn't take a vacation for the time he's there so I'm going to have to work at the same time >_<
I don't have an internet connection there, of course, so i'm probably going to be a bit scarce online the next two weeks *waves*

This evening I was at the cynagogue for the end of the month period of mourning for my uncle. At some point during the service a guy (not a rabin, just some president of some association) started making one of the most infuriating and warmongering speech about Israel. I would have strangled him. Not only was his rethorics puke worthy, but talking about politics and war in such a contest, when most of the people presents were friends of my uncle.... simply indecent. Urgh.

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