I took this picture over the weekend when I went to Hong Kong to see “The Big Buddha”. I enjoyed a good laugh and in many ways felt happy for these monks to experience a thrill. Thinking about it later reminded me of how I used to take modern technology, medicine, and forms of transportation for granted. Like most religious people, I attributed these things to the “generosity” of the god I believed in, and never cared to think about the geniuses and hard workers who were really behind these advancements.
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Latkes or turkey. Not sure which one I’m missing more right now.
Repeat After Me
I’ve been teaching in China for almost 3 months now and my initial observations haven’t changed much. Things run very differently here to the point where I’m still adapting and getting used to them. One thing that always seems to concern me is the way the Chinese English teachers teach their students. Sometimes I will get to my next class pretty early, so I’m able to observe these lessons. It takes a lot of effort for me not to jump up and correct the teacher on her horrible pronunciation and robotic teaching style. The students memorize the words and compete with each other on who can scream them out the loudest. If you were to start a simple conversation with them using the words they just memorized, they would have no idea what you were saying. Quantity seems to be much more important here in China over the quality of almost anything. This unfortunately reminds me of my upbringing.
My religious classes were very similar to these Chinese English classes. Instead of actually explaining the material in context, we were to memorize verses of the Torah, songs of prayer, and all of the laws that go into being an observant jew. For example, after every meal at school students would sing the grace after meals prayer the same exact way every time. We could understand and read the Hebrew, but it wasn’t about comprehending the prayer. It was taught in a task/ goal orientated way. Sing the prayer, fulfill your duty, and receive the good deed. This mindset was in most religious things I performed. Rather than actually thinking about what and why I was doing something, I would do it blindly. All of the practices became second nature to me, that it was like putting on a shirt. You don’t think about the action, you think about how you will look, the people you want to impress, or leaving to your next activity of the day.
It’s clear to me now why my religious classes were taught in this way. It prevents the students from questioning authority. Something religion and China has in common.
Anonymous asked: "I’m not sure why you would think not believing in god would come before not praying. How does one pray to something they don’t think exists?" Because if you believe in god (specifically the Orthodox Jewish one) wouldn't you want to follow its rules and pray? After you lose faith then praying would be a habit to break. That's just how it seems to me....
If we are referring to Yahweh (the god I used to believe in) then I think it’s fair to say that just because one no longer wishes to pray or observe the laws in the Torah, doesn’t mean they don’t believe anymore. It would make sense that if you do believe in that god, you would pray and observe all of his laws, but reform, conservative, and now even modern orthodox jews pick and choose which laws they want to observe and determine their own level of prayer. It’s like someone who calls oneself a vegetarian, but chooses which animals they can or can’t eat.
Once people finally reject Yahweh, they could still believe in another god. I think it’s rare to find someone who no longer believed in a god before they went through a decline of religiosity, prayer, and an increase of doubt.
I am not Orthodox: Chabad propaganda
This reminds me of the youtube video titled “Why I Hate Religion But Love Jesus”, where some guy performs some poem he wrote trying to convince his audience that christianity is not a religion. The Amazing Atheist made a great video response which pretty much expresses my views towards this absurdity.
Anonymous asked: The order of your step by step process to go OTD seems kind of funny. I would have guessed it would start by not believing in god, then not praying, then the other stuff. And just a guess but I think goyishe velt means gentile world.
Actually, based off my conversations with other OTD jews and other blogs I have read, the process I went through seems to be the typical one. I’m not sure why you would think not believing in god would come before not praying. How does one pray to something they don’t think exists?
Good guess on goyishe velt! I think Rosetta stone is searching for someone to help make their Yiddish program. You should get it on that!