Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Religious Minority

Because I'm doing major mea culpa to the medicine god this week, I don't have time for much thoughtful posting. Therefore, I'm just writing to remind myself of my latest life observations. Because no one actually reads this, it functions as somewhat of a journal, which is fine with me. I'm kind of a solitary person at heart (in that I lament not spending enough time with people, yet can't be bothered to call back amazing friends, and have just skipped a party to sit on couch and drink Sam Adams Black Lager and watch the Olympics with my cats). Thus, I find this whole blog thing kinda soothing.

This week I became a Jew (doing lots of stuff) for Jesus, in the sense that I've been at three different churches for three different purposes in the last three days. And if you count my long religion talk with the Mormon kid who was one of my roommates at the Tijuana trip, and another conversation about the Armenian Orthodox Church with Haig, (who is in six-person clinical medicine group), then that officially counts as five Christian experiences this week. (The first three were at the Episcopalian church that organizes the HHAB medical trip to TJ, the Catholic church I attended to advertise for the USC Free Clinic SNAPP program, and the Salvation Army shelter where I tutor an adorable homeless kid- ok, the last one is not exactly church, but is a place filled with lots of what my friend calls "Christ love").

And yet, I am not a Believer. I should also note, however, that I retain a triumphant, zealous faith and practice in playing draydel for gelt on Chanuka, watching soldiers march in Memorial Day Parades, eating matzah/BBQ veggie burgers to honor my freedom on Passover/July 4th, playing dress up and getting smashed on Purim (it's a real commandment), deeply regretting and apologizing on Yom Kippur, breaking my pseudo-vegetarianism to eat real turkey on Thanksgiving, and greeting people with "ahoy matey" on National Pirates Day.

I find that picking the lucky religion is like classical roulette odds with Russian Roulette outcomes, although choosing a Christian one might narrow the probability to reds vs. blacks. This is because you can dip in one denomination, and still get partial credit from another one (say the bottom rung of the three celestial kingdoms of the Mormons). Or as Paul said: “I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know-God knows.” Such different stages of heaven and hell allow for efficient faith differentiation. It is perfect for the Power(s) that Be, in that it captures the "Faithfuls' Surplus," while allowing for the less devout to sacrifice less, so long as they're willing to accept a smaller portion of the Everafter.

However, in the meantime, I'll keep going to temple, planning trips to the Western Wall, and sending my money to the Jewish National Fund, Jewish World Service, and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, et. al. There's something to be said about a religion that endures so exhaustedly that, even if you check out on it, it never officially lets you leave.

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