I will practice my religion regardless of anyone’s problems with it. I do not care what conquerors did centuries ago. I do not care that you disagree. I do not care that Christianity as a whole rejects us like that cousin you avoid at Christmas.
I am Catholic. The only thing that will stop me from being Catholic is if God himself tells me so.
Schools: do not EVER teach a history lesson, and then have the reason for the horrors of 1609 be “because the king was Catholic”.
That’s not right.
Don’t claim that “Catholics worship Mary”. We don’t, we respect her.
Don’t EVER say “ there is a difference between being Christian and being Catholic ”. There is none.
Don’t tell me that because I don’t follow every practice of my religion that I’m “not devout”. I pledged myself to my religion when I was fifteen.
Catholic people are Christian.
Do not speak about my faith as if you know what you are talking about when you don’t have the decency to say the right things.
My high school memories are still traumatising to me. I still can’t work them out, 13 years later.
*innocently changing in a locker room after a swimming class*
*Her* “Sharon, why aren’t you wearing a bra, yet?”
*Me* “I don’t know. I…I…don’t know.” I felt ashamed. I blushed. Everyone was looking at me. Because of her. But I knew, deep down, it was my fault.
*Then, later on, she threw a ruler at me. One day in Geography class. Casually. In front of everyone.
She was so smug. She acted like it was nothing. Like I was nothing. So I decided it wasn’t, deep down, my fault, after all, picked up the ruler, got up and started hitting her with it.*
I only avoided suspension because technically she started it, I got very good grades and my mother was friendly with the school priest.
(In fairness, she hit me fucking back. She was vicious. I had just seen enough action movies to know aiming at the eyes, going for the takedown and repeatedly punching was the best idea.)
Despite their direct line to the being who knows everything and makes all the rules, we’re not so sure the Catholic church is an authority on hipsters. Of all the ill-defined symbols of hipsterism, why go with untied sneakers? That’s more like a mild symbol of diet teen rebellion in the 1950s. If this wasn’t exactly what happened, we’d probably joke, “It’s like something the world’s squarest church would use to appeal to their vague notion of young people.” If they really wanted a hipster, why not have Jesus listening to The Lumineers on vinyl or holding a Bible made out of recycled bike tires? Did this church do any research at all? Those are probably the top autocompletes when you type in “Hipster Jesus would totally …”
This also doesn’t really fit any message of Christ. Sure, Jesus was a hipster in the sense that he had a beard and was crucified before it was cool, but (as of press time) hipsters are all about non-trendy fashion, esoteric music, and squeezing into size 4 women’s jeans. Those are all things Jesus didn’t seem very interested in. All the church managed to do with this ad was to insult the intelligence of its audience, muddy its own god’s message, and fundamentally misunderstand everything about the subject being discussed. It’s insane to imagine an organized religion acting in such a way.
My friend is trying to float an idea to EWTN for “a show for Catholic teens and young adults in a talk-show format like Jimmy Fallon… And they could have on special guests like Matt Maher or Jason Everett to talk and then play games and do skits and stuff. There could be a Book of the Week component, Saint of the Week, and other silly, dumb skits and Catholic parodies of pop culture stuff.”
She wants to call it “Catholic Girl Problems” or something to that effect.
She’s preparing to send the email, but please us know if you’d be interested in a show like this by reblogging this post. Thanks! :) ~CL
This is the essay that I sent to the Bet Din (per instruction from my rabbi) stating my desire to convert to Judaism and describing my journey to Judaism.
Desired Hebrew Name: Jonathan,
Why I Want to Become a Jew
I was raised a Southern Baptist. As a child I never
questioned our religion because it did not interest me very much. Church was
boring, and the beliefs did not seem all that interesting. When I was thirteen
I had what the Baptists call a “born-again” experience. Looking back, I can see
that it was induced by dim lighting, the emotional music, and the charismatic
preacher, but at the time it motivated me to take an interest in religion. I
began reading the Bible and pop-theology, like Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. Lewis introduced me to the notion
of the Trinity. This was something that was never discussed in depth by the
Baptists. I knew from my life-long indoctrination that there was one God, that
Jesus was his son, and sometimes someone would mention the Holy Spirit, but it
never occurred to me to ask how God could be one if there were three of him.
Lewis’s unconvincing attempt to rationalize the doctrine was the first time I
ever thought about it for an extended period of time.
My interest in the Trinity and the role of Jesus in
Christian theology led me to Catholic sources. They were much more systematic
in their thinking, and for a 14 year old, much more convincing. I ultimately
joined the Catholic Church shortly thereafter, however, I continued questioning
and studying. By the time I was 16 I had rejected the doctrine of the Trinity
and any deified version of Jesus as a violation of the unity of God. I began
researching other religions which taught monotheism, including Sikhism, Baha’i,
Judaism, Islam, and Unitarianism. This was the first time that I became
interested in Judaism, but due to my age and where I lived, I did not pursue
conversion. I drifted in and out of liberal Christian churches for the next few
years, but I could not put up with a liturgy that expressed a belief system I
no longer held.
When I made it to college, I began to practice
Buddhist meditation and Eastern mantra meditation. Although I found these
practices spiritually effective, I never sought out formal conversion to any Eastern
religion, and I ended up giving them up as time went on due to a lack of time
and a lack of community. When I was twenty-two, after having dropped out of
college and begun to work full time, I once again found myself drawn to
Judaism. I liked the pragmatism of Jewish practice, the focus on good deeds
rather than a set of beliefs. I was drawn to the theological freedom of the
Reform Movement which did not demand adherence to any one belief about God and
encouraged free thought and critical engagement with Jewish tradition. I also
found myself attracted to the focus on social justice and ethics. I found the
liberal Jewish authors and theologians engaging, nuanced, and sincere without
being dogmatic or condescending. I began taking classes at the Reform temple in
Charlotte, NC and attending the local Reform temple in Gastonia where I lived
in late 2009, early 2010. The Hebrew chanting of the prayer service was
meditative and spiritual like the Buddhist meditation I had engaged in in
college, and the fact that it was done in a community with holidays and Jewish
culture was a beautiful and touching experience.
Ultimately, however, I stopped the conversion
process. There were too many factors holding me back at the time. I found that
I did not believe in the literal chosenness of the Jewish people or that the
Torah was the literal word of God, I was not sure if I would be able to
circumcise a son if I ever had one, and being the only Jew in my family or
circle of friends would have been too difficult to handle at the time. I was
also working at a restaurant, and the schedule for the classes often clashed
with my work schedule, and the temple was simply too far away to conveniently
attend once a week. I withdrew from the program and did not practice any religion
for a long time after that.
I began dating Josh in January 2011. Josh comes from
a Conservative Jewish background, however, he is a secular Jew now. Our
relationship became serious, and I moved to Anderson, SC in March 2012 for us
to live together. When I moved to Anderson, I wanted to establish a circle of
like-minded friends, and I happened to know, because of one of my trips to the
area, that there was a Unitarian Universalist fellowship in Clemson. I began
attending the fellowship and became a member shortly after.
Unitarian Universalism is a theologically pluralistic
liberal religion. Their principles encourage ethical living and spiritual
exploration and growth within a communal context. Of course, during my time at
the UU fellowship I was celebrating Jewish holidays with Josh and his family,
especially Purim, Passover, Rosh Hashanah, and Hanukkah. I also hosted a
Passover seder at the UU fellowship in 2013 with the Jewish members there, and
every year, the minister would have a service which reflected on the meaning
and role of Yom Kippur on the Sunday closest to the holiday.
For two years, Unitarian Universalism served my
religious and communal needs by allowing me to explore my beliefs, make
friends, and become a community lay leader. However, Unitarian Universalism was
incapable of meeting my spiritual needs, and this was one of the things that I
learned about myself at the fellowship. UU churches hold a very “low-church”
free-form liturgy. Each Sunday is different in content and sometimes even in
structure. Comparing this liturgical form with the Catholic Church of my teen
years and the temple from Gastonia, the UU liturgy was sorely lacking. I
realized that I needed and wanted liturgical structure, chanting, prayer-books,
and well-known songs. The reliance of the UU fellowship on the sermon to carry
the service meant that there was a need for a constant stream of interesting
and compelling topics, and often they ended up being a disappointment. By
Easter of 2014, I was beginning to think I was wasting my time on Sunday
I attended a wedding of one of Josh’s Jewish friends
in Charleston the summer of 2014. The service was beautiful and officiated by a
Hazzan from Josh’s childhood synagogue. The Sunday following the wedding, I
visited the UU church of Charleston because its architecture is known for its
beauty and historicity. The service there was beautifully done as well with
choral singing and all the things I thought my fellowship back home was
missing. After going back to the fellowship in Clemson after that trip, I knew
that I needed to find a better alternative or work to change the church I was
At first, I attempted to think of ways to incorporate
more liturgical elements into the service at the UUFC, however, I soon realized
that it was a futile task. Liturgical outgrowth would have to be a natural
product of the community based on their experiences and beliefs. But the
beliefs of Unitarian Universalism are too broad and ambiguous to give rise to
meaningful rituals. I thought that a return to certain Christian rituals like
communion may be capable of reinterpretation for UU use, but my aversion to
Christianity turned me away from that option as well as the fact that most UUs
would also not want such a thing.
Because of the close ideological ties to
enlightenment values like personal autonomy, reason, and the historic link
between the Unitarian rejection of the trinity and Reform focus on ethical
monotheism, I thought that perhaps the incorporation of certain Jewish rituals may
be possible. But once I considered this, I realized that it did not make any
sense to try to turn one religion into another, especially since appropriation
of Jewish customs by UUs would be wildly inappropriate. If I wanted or needed
something that UUism was not able to provide, then I should do what it took to
fill that need. Ultimately, my “free and responsible search for truth and
meaning” led me back to the religion that I wanted to convert to years before. While
I retain affection for the UU fellowship in Clemson and the UU principles, I
withdrew from membership in the UUFC in order to convert after I contacted Rabbi
Master in November 2014, and I began studying and attending the temple in
Anderson, SC. Unitarian Universalism helped me to gain an understanding of
myself, my beliefs, and my religious and spiritual needs which directly led me
to seek conversion to Judaism.
Over the past year of studying and practicing
Judaism, I have begun to incorporate different Jewish practices into my life. In
addition to the normal holiday celebrations, I try to observe the Sabbath in
some form or another. Sometimes we have Shabbat dinner and light candles and
say the blessing over wine and challah. I go to the temple as much as I can,
and we perform Havdalah after sunset on Saturday. I have attempted to
incorporate the morning prayer service into my life as much as possible, and
over the past few months, I’ve been using Marcia Falk’s The Book of Blessings for Shabbat morning and weekday morning or
evening prayer. And while my giving of tzedakah is not what it should be, in
part because of my financial situation, if I manage to make it to Publix for
challah on Friday, I donate something to whatever charity they are helping at
One major change in my thinking since I began
studying was my view of the Jews as a people. I entered this process with the
idea that Judaism was primarily a religion, but after encountering the thought
of Mordecai Kaplan, I have come to appreciate that being Jewish is as much about
joining a religious civilization as it is about religion itself. This view of
the Jews as a nation has also changed the way that I see Israel. After studying
the history of the Jews and gaining the understanding of the Jews as a people,
I better understand the need for Israel as a national home and safe-haven that
I could not understand before my studies.
The understanding of the peoplehood of the Jews has
also affected the way that I view conversion. Rather than seeing my conversion
simply as my adopting the Jewish religion, I see it as becoming a member of a
family or a nation. This has been facilitated through the gradual growth of
relationships that I have had with Josh and his family and our celebration of
Jewish holidays and Shabbat. Because of this extended family situation which
reinforces Jewish practices, I have come to identify much more fully with the
Jewish people than if I had simply converted as a single person. My attendance
at shul, while not as regular as I would like it to be, has also helped me to
identify more with the Jewish people, although nowhere near as much as my
family situation has.
I have noticed my growing identity with the Jewish
people most clearly in my response to the rising antisemitism that has been
seen in Europe, the Middle East, and America. While before I began this process
I saw antisemitism as a clearly bad thing, I did not see it affecting me
directly unless something were to happen to Josh or his family. Now, however,
antisemitism scares me as a very real threat to my survival, that of my family,
and the Jewish people and the state of Israel. But despite my fears about
possible antisemitism, my connection to the Jewish people and the Jewish future
is stronger than my fear of bigots. Dealing with the possible threat of
antisemitism has been the real test of my commitment to Judaism and the Jewish
people, and my consistent response has been to reaffirm my commitment to my
partner, his family, and the larger Jewish community that I have joined my life
My journey to Judaism has been a long and complicated
process. It began with my interest in Judaism as an idealistic teenager, and
culminated in my integration into Jewish family life and a search for a
meaningful spirituality. I love the beauty of Jewish traditions, the
spirituality of the Jewish liturgy, the comfort and joy of Jewish holidays, and
the exemplary ethical values of the Reform Jewish tradition. This process of
study, reflection, and religious observance has led me to anticipate my official
adoption into the mishpachah and my
future life as a Jew.