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7 people online in the last 60 minutes - 0 Canucks, 0 Canucks In Hiding and 7 Visiting Canucks. (Most ever was 233 at 09:22:13 Fri Sep 21 2007)|
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Dear Miss Manners,
I am a 20-year-old Liberal Jew. I follow some, though not all, of my religion's extensive dietary laws. A number of people seem to feel that they can demand an explanation and justification as to why I follow these laws at all. Their queries range from the polite enough "Why do you bother following all those rules?" through to "Those rules don't make ANY sense to me!" and even "That's really random/crazy," said with an expectant expression.
I find this embarrassing and invasive. I'm willing to answer a polite, respectful query from someone who actually seems curious, but I'm not willing to give explanations on demand if people are going to be rude about it. I get these comments from friends, acquaintances, my atheist grandmother, and even my own boyfriend. This is how I was raised, this is who I am and what I do, and I don't feel the need to justify myself to anyone.
There are many aspects of Christian ritual and belief that don't make sense to me, but I wouldn't dream of being so rude about them to a practicing Christian. I don't expect Judaism to make sense to every atheist I meet; it makes sense to me, and that's all I need. How can I politely but firmly tell people that my religious beliefs are a private matter and I'm not obliged to justify myself to them?
There are people, and then there is your grandmother the atheist. She may be told that you are following family tradition, which is a charming thing to say to one's ancestor until it occurs to the lady that she did not succeed in similarly inspiring her own children.
And then there is your beau. If you seriously care for him, you will take the trouble to explain your feelings; if he seriously cares for you, he will respect them, even if he disagrees.
Okay, now let's you and Miss Manners polish off the busybodies. One should never discuss theology of any kind with people who are not only rudely intrusive but who harbor the impression that religion must be justified by practical reasons.
In most cases, the mild statement, "It doesn’t have to make sense to you" should be enough. For those who persist, you can add more coldly, "I only ask you to treat my religion with respect."
Yeah, even though I was raised Christian, I was taught to be respectful of other religions.
~ Sarah Jane
I really think this world would be a much nicer place, if we could just learn to accept each other's beliefs.
Right, I totally agree with you, CY!
Well, as a non-religious Jew, I don't really follow the dietary laws at all. Still, some people do like to stick to Jewish tradition, and that's fine. It's just a matter of personal choice.
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