Monday, March 05, 2007

Adorable set, cotton blend, with a full skirt and a matching short sleeved jacket. This taupe is almost Brownie uniform colored, and the novelty print shows yellow castles and white fleur de lis.
But it is with mixed emotions that I post this one, sweet though it is. The seller has included a Bible verse with her post, which alienates me. I have written about this seller in the past. With the politicized Christianity in the currrent U.S., posting a Bible verse is almost like telling me about her politics, or even her vote. The seller is risking alienating just as many people as she inspires. And that's not good for business. It tells me that she is more interested in expressing her beliefs than making a sale. Or maybe there's another story here?
There is a button and notions shop in NYC's garment district that is always blaring evangelical choir-type music. The first time I went in, I came right back out again. It felt uncomfortable to be a nice Jewish girl hearing about the "blood of the lamb" and being "saved saved saved" at such high volume. (I have also left stores playing misogynist popular music--that means I walk out of a lot of places.) Thinking this was an anomaly, I went back. Nope, more very loud very Christian music. While I was there the second time, a young man approached the proprietress and asked if it was music from the Something Something Church (I've forgotten what it's called). The two of them talked about it in great detail and formed a positive connection. Again, I left.
I am probably alienating someone by saying that I am alienated. There is new rhetoric in the United States, propagated by the Christian right, which claims that Christians are oppressed when they can't legally force the rest of us to celebrate their holidays exclusively and pray to their god in public (taxpayer-funded) schools. They claim they are oppressed when we talk about evolution. Oy. I tell you, my dear monkeys (I say that like the Wicked Witch of the West to her winged Darwinian crew), it pains me that the Christian right has managed to appropriate the language of civil liberties for their own aims.
If instead of Christian music, there were Sufi chants, Qawali, Hindu bhajans, or Buddhist monks chanting, I wouldn't have left. Scouring my character and polishing the mirror of my heart, I found that I do feel threatened by Christianity. Not just as a Jew (I mean that ethnically, I am non-practicing) but as someone who is a liberal modern politically progressive and a woman. I feel more generous toward practicioners of other religions, though. Rudopho says that is just because I am always on the side of the underdog.
The U.S. government is not being taken over by fundamentalist Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims or Tibetan monks. The Dalai Lama is not counseling senators and congresspeople to chip away at Roe v. Wade. There is not a cavalcade of Muslims and Sikhs in the White House refusing to fund Health programs unless they are abstinence only. Buddhists do not speak to me of the End Times, where all my kind gotta go to Israel, or get used as target practice in born-again video games. At this time and in this country, it is Christianity that is being used as a political tool, and that makes me uncomfortable. And then there is that Rapture/End Times thing where all my people have the fun choice of death or conversion. I mean, don't they want me and my kind to feel nervous?
Of course there is a conservative wing of every religion: Orthodox Judaism is politically conservative vigorously anti-woman. And, on the other hand, there are all kindsa Christian folks who are liberal. It is narrow-minded to see all Christians as extremists like those in the documentary Jesus Camp.
You might say to me: religions are all anti-woman opiates of the masses anyway, Samsara. Why should you privilege some over others? And where do you get off being a Jewess who calls herself Samsara, I'm totally offended by your cultural appropriation. Besides, you refer to yourself as Jewish all the time, you can't tell me that's not religious. Or perhaps: aren't you just yearning to be a Buddhist? You write too much about the Tibetan religious tradition, of which you understand nothing.
And how right you would be, bubbeleh.
Because I am not perfect, that's why I'm called Samsara.
Is there a Hebrew equivalent? Hell if I know. Would that even be appropriate since I am a shrimp-eating heathen? Is there a good Anglo-Saxon word that encompasses delusion, desire, confusion, bad habits, repetition compulsion and suffering? Maybe a Yiddish word? (Verdreygt in Kopf only takes care of 2 items on the list.)
I am guilty of referring to myself as Jewish, but it is something I will be (regardless) whether I want to or not. And no matter what I do. Full disclosure: I am almost a half-Jew. I say almost because according to Jews there is no such thing as a half-Jew. My mother is Jewish, and by Jewish law, so am I. (For those of you who are confused: if your father is Jewish and your mother is not, you are not Jewish unless your mother converts. Thems the rules.)
Since my father is not Jewish, I spent some of my wild youth not being Jewish, or attempting as much. Lemme tell ya, I was always found out. It was impossible to ignore or hide, so why bother? I thought, why not go whole hog (so to speak). Why not find some joy in it? Why not learn about it? Why not be a cultural ambassador to the Goyim since I know their ways?
I am guilty of writing about Buddhism. I am not a Buddhist, or even a Jew-Bu. I end up reading a lot about the Tibetan tradition. Because of the unconscionable way China has treated Tibet, so many have fled. Perhaps out of necessity, Tibetan spiritual leaders have worked to explain their tradition in a manner more accessible to Westerners. I've found a lot of it helpful for understanding the world the way it is. Buddhism itself ain't no picnic for women though.
Shouldn't we as political progressives hold ourselves to even higher standards? Refuse to respond to conservative claptrap with vitriol? Too many liberal blogs are saturated with the same contempt and violent language that conservatives use. Shouldn't we be kinder? Shouldn't we build bridges? Shouldn't we genuinely attempt a dialogue? Wouldn't that be the only way forward?
If you know how to do any of this, please let me know.


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