Reading back over some of my past blogs, I was reminded of one of my all time favorites. Given that the topic is so prevalent again, today, and I have so many new readers, I wanted to bring it out of hiding, and into the forefront again. Enjoy!
Reprinted from August 17, 2008 by cantorballard
On the heels of my blog about “What do we want from Hebrew Schools”, it becomes evident that our view today on religion, as a whole, has experienced a tremendous shift.
USAToday’s recently published article tells us that Americans lean more towards the upbeat, positive aspects of faith, while moving farther and farther away from dogmatic practices with hard core rules and restrictions. We are more prone to look to our religious traditions and rituals at time of lifecycle events, but in our every day lives, we want to receive the positive messages and encouragement faith offers.
So what does this say about our society, in terms of G-d? How do we define G-d? If we reject the rules and structure – will faith continue to exist? And – if all that – is – what is faith? Do we turn our faith into ourselves, becoming completely self-accountable? The question kind of scared me.
I do what I do to serve those who have already decided on moving away from dogma, and embracing feel-good spirituality. Sometimes I, myself, find that I really subscribe to that theory as well. We say – well, I don’t have to observe Shabbat, and…It’s ok to bend this rule, and that…It’s ok to get married “just before” sundown on Shabbat, to accommodate the caterer, etc. But- what power do we give G-d, then? I don’t feel any less connected to G-d than I ever did, in fact, in my quest for spirituality, I have grown closer.
To me, the answer is in living strong in principals, rather than rules. I go out of my way to do the right thing to and for people, to observe the golden rule, to care for the earth, caring for the sick, giving to the poor, those are things that bring me closer to G-d, because I know they’re the right things to do. I’m no less Godly, I just don’t worry about the details, in favor of the bigger things.
I’ve seen clergy – well respected, highly highly highly dogmatic, and staunch in their public ritual observance who are -pardon the expression – complete jerks – sinners, even. Are they more Godly than me? What about the Catholic priests who commit heinous acts against children – they followed the dogmatic rules, but didn’t live a life of G-d in their hearts.
What’s wrong with wanting the spiritual, upbeat message? We get the negative ones daily. You’ll get cancer, you’ll lose money, you’ll do this or that, and it’s usually bad. No wonder our society wants to gravitate to things that make us feel good while we’re here on earth – we don’t get much of it from anywhere else!
I’ll take my double dose of spirituality. I believe it is what makes me smile when I’m in your presence, to let you know you have brightened my day. I believe that being happy because I woke up this morning makes G-d feel good about me. Please forgive that I didn’t light my Shabbat candles right at sundown, or that I took my child to the movies on Saturday – at least I spent time with them, let them know their Mom loves them, and I know that makes G-d feel good about me too.
We all deserve to feel good, and we can do it with G-d in our minds and our hearts, even if we don’t follow all the rules..