Oh, y'all. I haven't been posting much beyond the stuff I have to write (my weekly 23andMe paid post), partly because I've been out of town, and partly because, well, you know how it is. Summer approaching and kidlets and big move on the horizon, and oh yes, that conversion thing. Right now I need to be working on my statement of belief, but it is righteous hard to digest theology when you're pleasantly tired from being pleasantly busy, and danged near impossible to articulate any synthesis. I had a dream that I went before my beit din and had totally neglected to do any preparation, and constructed some elaborate lie that would allow me to go all the way back home from the mikvah and, like, quickly whip up a beautifully articulated statement of faith, except my hands wouldn't write or the pencil was broken or some stupid dream shit.
So I'm reading Arthur Green's Seek My Face: A Jewish Mystical Theology and loving it, and Judith Plaskow's Standing Again at Sinai: Judaism from a Feminist Perspective and rolling around on the ground, it's so awesome, and Cynthia Ozick's Heir to the Glimmering World because hey, fiction written by a preeminent Jewish intellectual, plus it's really good and I already know who the Karaites are. Also, it's funny to imagine Judith Plaskow and Cynthia Ozick blessing each other out about referring to God in the feminine. Well, funny to me, and maybe three other people in the world, but SHUT UP.
It's so strange to be moving back into this place where I feel comfortable talking about religion and faith and God. It became so deeply uncool in my eyes after my experiences in Christian church circles in Kansas -- just emblematic of an anti-intellectual blind belief that allowed unscrupulous leaders to control people, and also saved some of those same people from having to do a whole lot of uncomfortable thinking. (I'm not talking about you -- just my own experiences in a particular time and place.) And my experience of Judaism has been the polar opposite of that experience (again, not talking about you -- I have met many Jews who would describe their experience with religion exactly as I have described mine) -- in my (extremely progressive) community there's such a respect for learning and knowledge and growing and changing and encountering the divine. And yet there's a respect for the wisdom of the rituals of long standing, an unceasing contact with history and everyone who came before. It's just...very much fun.
Thankfully my Bad Jesus Experiences and my Happy Jewish Experience were interpolated with the meeting of many wonderfully progressive Christians to take the taste of Presbyterians-going-conservative out of my mouth, as well as a long stint in Agnostic Pagan-Land, so I'm saved the sensation of running from one tradition directly into the arms of another. At the same time, the words "God" and "faith" feel so strange in my mouth, redolent as they are of church youth group and the general Christian-ness of the country. I'm grateful I can pray in Hebrew, so nothing feels like a retread of Vacation Bible School. I'm glad to have a new set of metaphors to work with.
What amazes and pleases me so is that my beliefs, even as I struggle to articulate them without saying "...dude!" too many times, haven't changed very much from my childhood intimations of some great underlying overarching One Thing. Judaism as I currently experience it feels, ironically, like a return to something I abandoned long ago.