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Theophobia

17 February 2009

This blog is quickly becoming more about religion than food. Granted, the two are rather closely related for me, but that’s for another post.

I realized today during a discussion in Religion & Ecology. We were talking about Judaism’s view of the Creator-Creation relationship, and the professor asked if one of us could recite and explain the significant of the Shema. After several moments of silence, I reluctantly answered, as it seemed no one else would. My voice shook and my face flushed hot and red. What was wrong?

I was afraid, religion. Afraid of what? Afraid of being identified as Jewish? Afraid of being wrong? Afraid of being judged?

And that, I realized, is my primary hesistation to explore religion. I have other reasons; philosophical ones, social ones (this is touched on with regard to Judaism here), but this is the personal one.

I am afraid of not being taken seriously.

I often feel even now that I’m not. Why should I be? I’m young, I’m an optimist, I’m emotional, I’m often random, even absurd in my humor, and, truth be told, I’m something of a ditz. I suppose I often do play the fool. But for the most part, when I am being serious, I am taken seriously, for which I am thanful.

The main way I am not taken seriously is that my conceptions about the importance of food is often tolerated as an eccenric zeal. It’s a passion of which I derive much pleasure and recreation, to be sure, but it is also a topic I consider of earnest importance to not just how I view the world, but how the world needs to change.

And that is just one belief, one considered mostly harmless. If I was religious, what would happen then?

I fear that my beliefs would not be taken seriously by my areligious family; I am already rather “out there” to them. I fear dismissal from my friends, even my significant other, many of whom are cynical.

I fear alienation from the religious community I might choose. For being an outsider, for not being of the proper upbringing or culture, for having interpretations (such as those about food) which are considered against the grain. I fear denial, the assumption that I am “not one of them”, to not be taken seriously as a community member.

More grandly, I feel it would limit my ability to influence this world that I feel so desperatly I need to change. A religious idenity would give debators the power to label me as a “religious radical”, to accuse my beliefs of having no basis in secular reality, science, economics, fact. I want a voice that is not so easily dismissed. But can I have one if it is accented with religion?

And I fear it would mean I could not take myself seriously. For many of the same reasons as why I fear others would not. How could I not doubt my own motivations, just as I now doubt my motivations for wanting to find a firmer spiritual base? I am so emotional already; haven’t I been told that such emotion should be controlled, not released? How could I not doubt that my beliefs exist out of a personal weakness, a lack of strength to accept the world as it is in all it’s brutal truth? Would it be a denial of my skeptic, economic upbringing to accept and not to challenge? Much less the issue of how could I believe religion…how could I believe myself?

I know many of the above fears might seem irrational, even silly. But that’s what fear is I suppose, and it is a fear I cannot dismiss so easily.

Love,
Herbert.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Merav permalink
    16 March 2009 4:33 PM

    I am always happy to talk about Judaism with anyone. If you’d like, I’m here.

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