Fundamentalism / Seeing What We Want

I am converting to Judaism. I have wanted to since I was a child and the desire has only grown as I have aged. It’s where my soul belongs, and that’s really the bottom line. If I were to strip away the intellectual side, and my experiences with Christianity (which have, despite some of my statements, been positive at times), and my experiences with other Christians, I would still have a strong inner desire to be with the Jewish people. The Torah has always felt right to me. It is my delight.

I think some of my distaste with certain aspects of Christian culture is already colored by my feeling outside of it anyway. I do not need to only see roses, because I’m not a part of it and do not need to justify my beliefs. I’m not a Christian. I will never be a Christian again. Even if I never finish converting, I will still never be a Christian. I think that there are religious paths for everyone. For some, including many of my friends, Christianity fulfills them and brings purpose and changes their lives. That’s great! But it’s not for me.

I do get frustrated when people assume that I am converting only because of negative experiences. That is not the case. All the negative experiences did was solidify my already-existent desire to convert to Judaism. They put the icing on the cake and the straw on the camel. They certainly helped to justify my decision, but they weren’t what originated the decision. I think this is what happens with anti-LGBT sentiment in some people. Sure, some people use Bible verses to support their beliefs. But deep down, the beliefs would be there anyway. It happened with slavery and other forms of discrimination, and it happens with LGBT rights. It seems to be human nature to support already held beliefs with evidence, rather than use the evidence to form one’s beliefs.

I also get frustrated when people assume that I have not studied or experienced any other form of Christianity than evangelical. That is not true, either. I have attended Catholic services (Eastern Orthodox and Western), visited a Lutheran church, a Methodist Church, and several nondenominational. I spent time in a black Baptist church and some time in an Apostolic. I’ve studied quite a bit of theology and to be honest, it’s the studying that led me to Judaism. In my view, Christianity is not supported by Jewish theology or the Torah. It seems more pagan than Jewish-based. But that’s what my studying has concluded.

I don’t believe that I am immune to seeing what I want to see. It takes effort to keep my eyes open and balanced, and there are always a lot of variables to consider at once that makes discussion and staying on topic and balanced difficult. I also tend to write in a bit of a flurry, and I can be a bit snarky. I try to balance what I write, but I don’t always succeed. My criticism of fundamentalism (both Jewish and Christian) sometimes overwhelm my perspective. Those who espouse more fundamentalist viewpoints, I think, tend to believe that if someone is liberal, that they are so because they don’t know or cannot appreciate the reasoning behind fundamentalism. I do think fundamentalism in general is on the rise due to economic stresses. But that’s another post, too.

And on that topic, here’s an interesting post about The Rise of Fundamentalism.

Today, I want to remember to be more patient. People decide to do and say things for a myriad of reasons, not all of which are public. As Ambaa said in a recent post,

That is my message here: don’t judge on appearances. You never know the depth of someone else’s spiritual life.

I do agree with Unfundamentalist Christians with the quote that they shared today:

For some, fundamentalism is what keeps them afloat. I have struggled through eating disorders and fundamentalism myself (as a way to cope with anxiety), so I get it. Not to mention that sometimes, it’s really about being a part of a community. You do what your community does. There is also peace in the black and white. But for me, the world is a gray, nuanced place with a lot of variables all going on at the same time.  And for me, Judaism is what works. Part of the reason I am not converting to Orthodox Judaism is because that isn’t the community I’m in. I also identify with progressiveness, and I enjoy discussing and trying to find the balance between progressive thoughts and being observant.

But if in the end, it makes you a better person and makes the world a better place….that’s good, right? That’s the whole point, isn’t it?? Even if you are a better person with no religion at all…. great. I’m all for it. In the end, the goal is tikkun olam. A better creation. We just get there in different ways.

Help me see beyond my own lens: thank you for commenting and sharing your experiences.

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About Lynn Swayze

Lynn Swayze is a writer, IT professional , and mother of four. She was raised Southern Baptist, but began questioning her faith before she became a teenager. She is currently converting to Judaism. Email her at lynn {at} followingruth {dot} com.


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