Thursday, May 7, 2015

Are You There, God? It's Me, Spock

I have an embarrassing backlog of articles I plan on linking, and with Shavuos in our sights, I've still got stuff from Chanukkah-time. 

Disclaimer said, here's David Brooks "The Subtle Sensations of Faith." He quotes rabbis throughout. 

My family (well, at least Ta, Ma, Luke, and myself) consider ourselves "Rambam" in mindset: Rationalist Judaic. Brooks quotes: 
In his famous fourth footnote in “Halakhic Man,” Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik writes, “The individual who frees himself from the rational principle and who casts off the yoke of objective thought will in the end turn destructive and lay waste the entire created order. Therefore, it is preferable that religion should ally itself with the forces of clear, logical cognition, as uniquely exemplified in the scientific method, even though at times the two might clash with one another.”
He says it much better than I ever could. To be religious does not mean delving in mysticism alone. Luke was describing to me the lengths a certain tree frog exerts itself to ensure the continuity of its offspring (he's watching this series). Nothing otherworldly about it, and it gave me the ghostly shivers.

Brooks concludes: 
All this discerning and talking leads to the main business of faith: living attentively every day. The faithful are trying to live in ways their creator loves. They are trying to turn moments of spontaneous consciousness into an ethos of strict conscience. They are using effervescent sensations of holiness to inspire concrete habits, moral practices and practical ways of living well. . .
Insecure believers sometimes cling to a rigid and simplistic faith. But confident believers are willing to face their dry spells, doubts, and evolution. Faith as practiced by such people is change. It is restless, growing. It’s not right and wrong that changes, but their spiritual state and their daily practice. As the longings grow richer, life does, too. As Wiman notes, “To be truly alive is to feel one’s ultimate existence within one’s daily existence.”
My perception of Hashem and His workings, and how I relate to Him, has morphed over the years. As I learn, seek, and question, I feel my consciousness transcending, while maintaining my "rationalist" standpoint. To find God does not mean disavowing reason. If anything, without the brains that He gave us, we would be lost. 


Daniel Saunders said...

If you haven't read it, you should check out the whole of the fourth endnote of Halakhic Man; it's practically a little essay in its own right (it goes on for about three and a half pages).

Sarah said...

This is really well-written and thought out, Princess Lea. Where was it when I was taking organic chemistry with a religion-hater? I would totally have memorized this post and spouted it back every time he went out of his way and off-topic to bash religion and religious people, instead of rolling my eyes.

Princess Lea said...

DS: Thanks for the recommendation!

Sarah: I could have used this then, too! In college I wasn't good at expressing my religious convictions, but ironically most of the flack I got was from other Jews, whether irreligious or more to the "left". Now whenever I hear something or read something applicable, I'm all "I could have SO used this then!"

Chaya said...

We weren't supposed to have all our knowledge back in college. Being Jewish is all about growth. Life is interesting because of its challenges and rewards. May we all keep on growing.

Princess Lea said...

Chaya: True. But it's like finding out the best retort ten years after a flubbed conversation. Newman! ;)