There are quite a number of blogs I follow these days. Too many, in fact. I've seen the complaint before, but truly, I don't have time to keep up with all of you. Sorry.
I have no idea why, but most of the blogs I follow, religiously have issues with religion. (I understand why those of you who have issues, have them. I just don't understand why I've been drawn to so many blogs that have those issues.) Most of the posts on religion are understanding enough that they don't make me feel uncomfortable in the least. They're what you guys believe (or don't) and...O.K. fine. Sometimes, however, some of you go off the deep end.
Before I go any further, I'll restate my own situation. I grew up in a religious Jewish home. We kept Kosher. We went to shul on Friday nights and Saturday mornings. I still know the services by heart. Everything was in Hebrew and, yes, I can still translate most of it for you even though I can no longer carry on a conversation in modern Hebrew. Some time in my late teens, I discovered the joys of McDonalds and I found out that shrimp and lobster are the nectar of the Gods and I rationalized that I should be able to eat these most delicious foods. I became a backslider.
I've never given up some of the most basic Jewish tenets. I still believe that Jesus may have been a really good guy, and he suffered badly and all that, but as far as I'm concerned, he was another Jewish guy preaching a variation on Judaism. I'm not familiar enough with the New Testament to comment authoritatively, but if/when he claimed to be the Son of God, he was hallucinating; happens to the best of us.
I know that there are 613 commandments in the Torah and that for the most part, they're worthy commandments. I'm just not about to keep track of them and follow them, ba-dum-dum, religiously. The fact is, there are two things Jews believe that make me continue to identify myself as Jewish. First is that Jews of all stripes consider it their God-given mission to argue over the meaning of the Scriptures. That's what the Talmud is...a bunch of Rabbis arguing about "what does it all mean". If you're going to claim that God is too...whatever...to be understood, claiming you know his intent is the height of hubris. Arguing his/her/its intent honors the concept of "all-knowing and unknowable". Second is the Jewish concept of Heaven and Hell. We don't claim to know whether or not they exist. They might. They might not. But regardless, we're commanded to live our lives as if all that exists is what we know here on Earth. If you're going to be a good guy, it's for the sake of being a good guy...not for some reward in the afterlife. Sorry, religious Christian readers, but I'm offended by the concept of living a good life for the sake of a reward. Here is all that I know about and I'll act accordingly.
(And no, I'm not blind to the fact that if there's an afterlife, I'm working toward prime tickets, but I also think there's something to be said for motive. My motives are all here.)
So, anyway, back to what I was thinking when I started this post. The Pope is in town this week. The main effect on me is that traffic sucks. An awful lot of people have issues with the Pope because he's the final word for Catholics and some of what he preaches grates on some of us...including American Catholics. I remember, not so long ago, folks from some gay and lesbian groups showing up at St. Patrick's Cathedral to protest the Church's stance on homosexuality and lackluster response to the AIDs crisis. I sympathize(d) with them. I've got gay friends and a gay brother. I wish the best for all of them.
But I can't get myself to line up with anybody who thinks a religion needs to change its beliefs to line up with my own or anyone else's. I may agree with Judaism on a whole lot of things, but I can't claim to be a good Jew if I continue to eat pork and shellfish. I am, by definition, a backslider. And I don't think gays and lesbians should be screaming that the Catholic Church should change its basic beliefs to accommodate them. Religions exist to prescribe and proscribe a way to live your life. You either agree or disagree with those basic prescriptions and proscriptions. Sorry, but if you disagree, the answer is not to force the entire group to accept your heretical ideas...the answer is to emulate Martin Luther and found your own church.
The Catholic Church exists to push its agenda. The Baptist Church exists to push its agenda. Every existing religion exists because they believe they are right. If they don't believe they're right, they're useless to their adherents. I'm free to reject the ones I disagree with, but I don't believe I have any standing to tell them they should change their beliefs.
Yes, I believe that these douchebags are going to rot in hell (if there is one), but I'm not about to tell them they need to accommodate my ideas so I can be one of them...I'm just going to reject them. To a lesser extent, I can't align myself with a whole lot of Catholic dogma, but I think my position needs to be that I reject their beliefs and have to go my own way...not to try to tell them what they ought to believe.
I realize that I'm rambling on and on and on here, but there is a point. Really, there is. I'm less offended by a Pope who says the Priesthood will remain limited to men; who says that birth control is a sin and that abortion is a worse one--than I am by people who demand that their Church change its basic beliefs to accommodate them. It's what they believe. Start your own fucking church. The one you're leaving will either survive or it won't...on its own merits.
I can't claim to be a good Jew if I'm not going to keep kosher or go to shul. I'm not going to push black and whites, but if you believe gay men should be married and admitted to the Priesthood, you just might not be a good Catholic and you might want to found your own church.
Stop trying to convince a bunch of people who believe in one thing that they need to adjust those beliefs to accommodate you. Find the folks who agree with you already. Embrace your intolerance.