Monday, April 2, 2012

Introduction and a Word of Disclaimer

This book-blog is for you if:

  • You are religiously observant but do not accept the dogma.
  • You are not religiously observant for reasons of not wanting to accept the dogma.
  • You are an atheist who feels left out of Judaism.
  • You are ready to abandon observance because you feel intellectually squelched.
  • You are questioning, yet solid enough in your religious observance that the idea of a “Godless” Judaism would not bother you or dissuade you from being observant. 

This book-blog is NOT for you if:

  • You are a contented believer in the God of the Bible.
  • Your religious observance rests on faith in God.
  • You believe in the Torah as a historical, God-given, supernatural document.
  • You believe in God and are starting on the path of religious observance.
  • You are questioning, yet unsure whether the idea of a “Godless” Judaism would disturb you or dissuade you from being religiously observant.

Granted, anytime we pick up a book, read an article, talk to a friend, overhear a conversation, etc., we cannot help but be affected. This is why Pirkei Avot (1:7) warns us to distance ourselves from bad neighbors and associates; we are greatly influenced by our surroundings, and often in ways we cannot predict. So despite this disclaimer, there is no way of knowing how one will be affected by this writing, for good or for bad. I am however conscious of not wanting to be a "bad neighbor." I know these are sensitive issues, with the potential to change a person's life, and I do not wish to be an agent of harm to another person, even if it is inadvertant. So I ask potential readers to weigh carefully whether they believe it to be in their best interests to be exposed to this material, before proceeding.

My goal is not to shake people’s observance or their faith, nor to disturb their sense of well-being or their relationships with friends and loved ones. The "truth" component is not the only value to be considered. So is the upkeep of Jewish observance, and certainly so is the safeguarding of one's happiness and well-being. However, there are an increasing number of Jews in the religious community who cannot, and will not, believe in the dogma. Many feel that not only is their non-belief not a “shortcoming” on their part, but in fact a sign of mental health, of their desire to eschew idolatry (worship of falsity). Consequently, they see their non-belief as something to be cherished, to be encouraged, not branded as heresy. My hope is precisely that, to offer these people encouragement, and over time to help bring them back into the fold, as upstanding and idealistic members of the religious community.

The larger goal of this work is to help build a sustainable Judaism for the future. Because the tide of non-theism is inevitable; the trend of non-belief will only continue, and Judaism will have to relate to it, and eventually accommodate it. Initially, "atheodox" streams will understandably be deemed a threat to the religious community, and no doubt traditional believers will become even more vigilant, more dogmatic, less tolerant of non-belief, so as to protect other believers from its influence. My aim (and suggestion to others) is therefore not to attempt to proselytize. It is both unkind and counterproductive to hit believers over the head with atheism. Atheodoxy is something that is best spread organically, over time. I will say it again: The goal is not only truth but stability, and to deliberately shake people up is to erode stability. I do maintain that in the long run, a non-theistic track of observance is ultimately more stable, not less, than the theistic status quo. This book-blog is ultimately about creating the foundation for a stable, robust and viable Judaism, one that is capable of igniting the inspiration of Jews and non-Jews alike for many generations to come.

1 comment:

  1. "I do maintain that in the long run, a non-theistic track of observance is ultimately more stable, not less, than the theistic status quo."

    Heh heh. It will be interesting to see how you support that claim.