A week or so ago I posted a very well received piece titled “Response to a Homophobe”. When I posted the piece I was prepared for some negative comments, maybe an attack or two, but I didn’t get anything like that, at least not relative to the content of the post.
I did, however get one snide remark that left me thinking, in a bad kinda way. Here was the quote
“You make some good points, but why do you refuse to spell G-d? Do you really think your deity, if there is one, is going to read your blog and be somehow offended? I find that behavior as irrational as homophobia.”
I had to read the quote a couple to times and let it sink in.
My first thought, “what a douche”. But my second thought was better forumlated; “that’s the best you can come up with after reading the discussion on homosexual rights?” And the more I thought about it the more I found myself getting defensive and at the same time asking myself a fundamental question, what exactly do I believe or not believe about G-d.
First of all, a little clarification for you, Jews do not write any name of G-d outright, either in Hebrew or English, or any other language. Why? It’s probably not what you think. True, there is a sense of respect, in Jewish tradition a name defines the very essence of a person and is never taken lightly. In some traditions children are not given the name of living relative because the belief is that person won’t life a full of a life because they’re always carrying someone else’s name. (Side note, I’m thankful for this little belief, even though my middle name is a little weird.. I am 100% thankful that Grandpa Hyman was still alive when I came along. That, wudda sucked.) In traditional households a newborns name isn’t reveled to anyone until the child’s naming ceremony or bris, 7 days after the child is born.
But that’s not exactly it either. There is no rule about writing the name of G-d, but there is a strict prohibition about defacing it. If you remember my piece on the Cairo Genizah, I talked about how Jews don’t throw away scared books and writings when they’re no longer readable; instead they’re saved and buried in a cemetery. The tradition of writing G-d is to prevent G-d’s name from being defaced. Once it’s written, it makes any document sacred.
Interesting enough Rabbi’s have determined, wherever it is they do that, that writing G-d’s name on a computer does not count. The rule applies to permanent writings only and as the computer screens are temporary…. However, if there is an opportunity to print a document.. it becomes permanent.
But, I don’t think that was the commenters point. I’m not sure who this person is, but I did post a question on a site recently and noticed as I was logging off the page I caught a banner on the side, “Avowed Atheist”.
Besides the point. This person took the time to read my post and then comment in an offensive way about my personal beliefs, and happens to be ignorant enough in their convictions to not even bother to try to understand the why’s or what for’s of what I do. In essence they become so offended at the very name of G-d on my site that they felt compelled to attack.
Well I, in turn, was offended enough that I deleted the comment, it was a distraction to that particular post.
So what’s the deal Sank, you must believe in G-d huh, you write the name without the “O”, as any reader of this site knows that I’m a fairly religious person and that I’m Jewish, in the Reform tradition.
I’m going to respond to the question this way. “it doesn’t matter.”
The idea of G-d existing or not existing isn’t an argument that’s really worth having. Believers are their corner, Atheists are in theirs, and much like the debate on abortion or capital punishment, there’s very little one side can do to sway the opinions of the other one way or another. This is despite the fact that each side feels compelled to prove to the other side the error of their beliefs. Really it’s no different than the centuries of religious warfare where one faith or denomination went after another for their beliefs.
And again, it doesn’t matter.
Clearly, if there is one truth in the history of man and his relationship with G-d it is that we DO believe. Even the most ardent Atheist who casts unsolicited cynical disparagements towards someone whom he believes is holding on to some ancient fairy tale in an irrational, that person is a believer. He has an opinion on G-d, different than mine, but the mere fact that he has taken a stand and gone to the trouble of deciding that G-d surely does not exist, well that person takes the same leap of faith that those of us on the other side of that equation have taken only with a different conclusion.
I happen to believe that G-d exists, not as a omnipresent being in a robe and white beard looking down on us at all time, keeping track of what we do and what we don’t do. My personal beliefs are far less concrete, leaning more towards the spiritual and the essence of a what makes us, us.
When man first achieved a sense of self, it was in that instant that I believe he realized that he was not alone. And in the last 10,000 years we have attempted to understand what exactly that presence is. There is one universal concept that exists across the globe, from the most remote tribes in the New Guinean highlands to Muslim pilgrims at the Haj to the Latter Day Saints doing Temple Work, to Jews praying at the Western Wall, that concept is we are not alone. And how we go about determining the nature of the presence that is always around us, is a unique feature of being human.
The mere fact that we search, all of us, is what differentiates us from every other creature on this planet and in my estimation, that search, and it’s universality in the human experience confirms the existence of G-d.
So to that Atheist, your comments calling my beliefs irrational and lame, are in fact helping me in my personal beliefs. Thank you for that, and you’re still a douche.