midwestbuddha: (Default)
First, some background info: the purpose of these interviews is to bring people of all faiths closer together by promoting understanding of different perspectives. Enjoy! And if you would like to be interviewed, I am currently looking for someone who can tell me about their viewpoint as a Hindu or Wiccan. Just comment here and I'll contact you. Thanks!

Interview With [livejournal.com profile] prelocandkanar--thanks again, Beth! Readers: Please note that this interview contains more detail than any other before! But I have retained Beth's answers in their entirety, because I enjoyed them so much and felt confident you would, too. You will see this interview is divided into several sections, due to length. Enjoy!

15.) What are the taboos relating to your faith?

Taboos? I don’t know. Many, many Jews ignore kosher laws, don’t do daily prayers, or keep the Sabbath or any of that stuff, and still consider themselves, and would be considered, “good Jews.” I think being a “good Jew” is synonymous with being a good person, a kind and considerate person, so anything that goes against that – being mean, selfish, uncharitable, dishonest, etc. -- would be the most “taboo.” There’s a word, “mensch” – it means of person of integrity and honor. That’s the goal. The rest is gravy.

16.) Does your faith encourage belief in an afterlife? (i.e. heaven, hell, purgatory, nirvana, reincarnation, etc.)

Afterlife is not an important part of Judaism. Judaism is overwhelmingly concerned with life here and now.

17.) Does your faith encourage belief in more than one deity?

No. However, belief in any God at all is not required at all to be a “good Jew.”

18.) What healing methods are practiced by your faith? (Brief descriptions encouraged.)

Healing methods? Call a doctor! J

19.) Does your faith embrace many sects? If so, feel free to name and briefly describe the differences.

I wouldn’t call them “sects,” but the main branches or denominations of Judaism are Orthodox, Conservative and Reform. A person can and often does switch easily among them.
Orthodox are the most traditional. A sub-division of Orthodox are those that I would call a sect, the Hasidic Jews, are the ones with the hats and black coats. Most Orthodox (in my part of the world, at least) are “Modern Orthodox.”

I grew up Reform (not “Reformed” but “Reform” because it’s still and always changing and adapting), but since switched to Conservative. Reform are the most “liberal.” Services are almost entirely in English, often with musical accompaniment, and almost no one keeps kosher. Many Reform Jews only go to synagogue (if at all) on High Holy Days. Many Reform Jews would describe themselves as “secular Jews.”

There’s a wide range of observance among all branches.

20.) If you are part of a bi-faith marriage, briefly describe an incident you had with a conflict and how you dealt with it…

My husband and I are both Jewish, but he grew up (Modern) Orthodox and I grew up Reform, so we joke that we’re a mixed marriage. When we were dating, he came with me to my synagogue on High Holy Days one day, and I went to his the next day. At my synagogue, there was an organ playing music, we all sat together and the service was in English. Later, he told me that he felt like he was in a church. I went with him to his synagogue. The men and women sat separately, the men below and the women upstairs. The whole thing was in Hebrew, chanted by a cantor on a bimah (a low platform with a table to hold the Torah) in the center of the room, instead of in front. I felt so removed and apart from my then-fiance – as I was! I had such fond memories of standing at synagogue between my mother and father and grabbing their hands and feeling really connected. (Not that I ever “enjoyed” services. Long and boring!) When we got married, we agreed to “split the difference” and joined a Conservative synagogue. It was very helpful that we had a daughter. Orthodox synagogues are not as egalitarian and Conservative and Reform. (Our synagogue has had female rabbis and female cantors.)

It’s interesting that this survey doesn’t ask if one believes in (a) god or God or Diety. I’m going to answer it, anyway. J

I usually don’t really believe in God or any afterlife at all. Certainly not a God that’s involved in the details of our life. If I believe in a God at all, it would be First Cause – that is, something had to create the first particle of matter or energy in the universe. We can trace our solar system back, we can trace our galaxy back, we can propose theories about the Big Bang. But none of our cosmology can understand how this all began. Or comprehend that it might not have had a beginning. How did the first particle of matter or energy come to be? If I think of God, that’s it – First Cause.
More often, I believe in the “god” that is the best part of ourselves, the part of us that reaches the highest moral level we can. If I were to pray (which I don’t), I would be praying to that part of myself that can help me become the best person I could be.

I also strongly believe in noticing, appreciating and enjoying this life to the fullest. I frequently try to stop and notice the beautiful things around me – nice weather, nature. I try to appreciate that I have a healthy body. Because I believe that this life is all there is, I don’t want to miss anything or take it for granted. I don’t want to sleep-walk through it. My goal is to be “present,” “in the moment.” Judaism actually is a useful component of that.

The Old Testament God is often portrayed as cruel, vengeful, and petty. A projection of the times, and not relevant to how we think today. If I were to think about a God at all, it’s a God that’s patient, accepting, and loving. The piece of god that’s in all of us.
midwestbuddha: (Default)
First, some background info: the purpose of these interviews is to bring people of all faiths closer together by promoting understanding of different perspectives. Enjoy! And if you would like to be interviewed, I am currently looking for someone who can tell me about their viewpoint as a Hindu or Sufi. Just comment here and I'll contact you. Thanks!

Interview With [livejournal.com profile] prelocandkanar--thanks again, Beth! Readers: Please note that this interview contains more detail than any other before! But I have retained Beth's answers in their entirety, because I enjoyed them so much and felt confident you would, too. You will see this interview is divided into several sections, due to length. Enjoy!

5.) How often do you experience others’ prejudices directed toward you regarding your faith(s)? (i.e. daily, weekly? Is this a common or uncommon occurrence?)

I myself have almost never experienced prejudice. I’m well aware that where I live, it used to be common to have “restricted” neighborhoods or clubs where Jews were not welcome. But I’ve never experienced it.

But what I do feel is my perception, in the US where I live, of the almost universal assumption that one is Christian. It’s subtle but there. Here’s a striking illustration.

When my daughter was very little, in December, we could hardly go into a store or shop without the shopkeeper asking my daughter (in a very friendly manner) if she was looking forward to Santa Claus. Was Santa going to bring her lots of presents? Was she excited? I had trouble figuring out how to handle this.

There was no malice here, only really nice people being warm and friendly. But I couldn’t say, or ask my daughter to say, yes, we were looking forward to Santa. But there was no graceful way to say “no.” Saying “No; we’re Jewish” felt like it might make the other person feel uncomfortable; it sounded like a rebuke and like too much information. I tried saying it with a smile in a casual, off-handed way, but kind of resented being put on the spot. At one point, I thought I had a great solution. My daughter’s birthday is in December, so, when asked about Santa, I’d finesse the question and say, “And she’s looking forward to her birthday, too.” I was so proud of this, until they said, “But you’ll still get Christmas presents, too, right?”

Another example of this is the preponderance of Christmas fanfics around December.

6.) Would you briefly describe one such incident, how it made you feel and what you did about it?

I guess I just did.

7.) What is your favorite faith tradition?

I guess the Passover Seder, with its celebration of freedom and insistence that it’s understood as a universal and timeless theme. There’s a line in the Seder that says that each generation recognizes a new affliction or prejudice that had not been acknowledged before, and must work to overcome it.

8.) If you could dispel the most common misconception about your faith, what would it be and how would you go about it?

Because Judaism is, to a large extent, both a faith and a people (and a culture), there are misconceptions about both Judaism and about Jews. I guess the misconception is that Jews are “different” or “other.” How would I go about dispelling it? How about something like this survey?

9.) If you left a previous faith for the one you now call your own, why did you do so and how do you feel about your previous faith?

I didn’t leave a previous faith, so this doesn’t apply.

10.) If there were one thing you could change or eliminate about your faith, what would it be?

I’d go back to the biblical story about Abraham and Sarah and Ishmael and Isaac, and hit Abraham and Sarah upside the head. In the story, they behave abominably. I’m not a big believer in the literalness of biblical stories, but that still doesn’t keep me from arguing about the many stories that I think demonstrate bad choices, wrong-headedness, “lessons” I disagree with and versions of a god that does not match my sense of what a Deity would be. (Ditto the Sacrifice of Isaac story. No caring God that I can imagine would ask this of a parent. Not even as a test. It’s sick.) Jews and Arabs have so much in common; we’re fellow Semites; cousins. Many customs are the same, like the prohibition about pork. I wish relationships between Jews and Arabs were better, and it may be silly, but if Abraham had acted more in line with Jewish principles of Tzadakah (charity, justice, righteousness), maybe we wouldn’t be in this situation today. (Am I joking? I’m not sure…)
midwestbuddha: (Default)
First, some background info: the purpose of these interviews is to bring people of all faiths closer together by promoting understanding of different perspectives. Enjoy! And if you would like to be interviewed, I am currently looking for someone who can tell me about their viewpoint as a Hindu or Sufi. Just comment here and I'll contact you. Thanks!

Interview With [livejournal.com profile] prelocandkanar--thanks again, Beth! Readers: Please note that this interview contains more detail than any other before! But I have retained Beth's answers in their entirety, because I enjoyed them so much and felt confident you would, too. You will see this interview is divided into several sections, due to length. Enjoy!

1.) What is your chosen faith?
Jewish.

2.) Please briefly describe the basis of your faith, as you see it. (Feel free to quote a brief sacred text which illustrates this description for you.)
Judiasm is based on monotheism (the idea that there is one God), and is equally based on living an ethical, moral life. Actually believing in God is optional.

3.) Were you (and your mate) raised in your chosen faith? If not, how did you learn about it?
Yes, my husband and I were both raised Jewish, but in different ways.

4.) What is the most compelling element of your chosen faith, for you?
I would choose to be Jewish even if I hadn’t been born to it. Here’s why. (I am describing the style of Judaism I was raised with. As with most religions, there are other “flavors” that may not agree with everything I say. But my rabbi does, and so do most Reform and Conservative rabbis and their congregations.)

Judaism does not require you to suspend your intellect. It doesn’t insist that you believe in miracles, the literal truth of biblical stories or even in God. It does encourage you to question and think for yourself. Its primary goal is to guide and encourage people to lead ethical, moral lives and to treat other people well.

Judaism has no interest in converting or persuading others to Judaism. It doesn’t insist that Judaism is the only “true” way. It doesn’t tell people that are not Jewish that there will be “consequences” to not being Jewish.

It has virtually no political structure, in that there is no “chief rabbi,” and no dogma handed down. The only political structure is the tumult of each synagogue with their rabbi, cantor and board of directors. The appropriate comment here is, I think, Oy. No dogma?? Two Jews = three synagogues + 5 opinions. [Old joke: One Jew, stranded on a desert island, builds two synagogues. Why? The other one’s “the one I wouldn’t be caught dead in.”]
Judaism has almost no interest in the afterlife. Everything about it is concerned with this life, and living a good, honorable life. There is no “burn in hell,” there is no concept of “original sin.” Judaism tells you that you should act in a moral way not in order to “buy” yourself a “reward” in the afterlife, but simply because it’s the right thing to do.

In Christianity, one goes to confession, and the priest gives penance, after which the sin is absolved and one is “clean” again; at least, that’s how I understand it. In Judaism’s equivalent, Yom Kippur, one appeals directly to God to be forgiven for one’s “sins” – But! You can’t be forgiven until you’ve asked the people you’ve wronged for forgiveness, and done something to (attempt to) make your misdeeds right.

In Christianity (as I understand it), one often goes through clergy or prays through intermediaries like saints. (Maybe more so in the past than now??) In Judaism, if you want it, everyone has a direct line to God. (I guess I know that Christians also believe they can pray directly to God, but the custom seems to be to often go through an intermediary.)

Also, on all the political and cultural issues that are important to me, Judaism comes out on the “right” side of the issue: gay rights, women’s rights, reproductive freedoms, diversity issues, etc. (Although Jews of a different political outlook from mine can also find Jewish communities that reflect those points of view, I’m sure.)
midwestbuddha: (God hows it going)
First, some background info: the purpose of these interviews is to bring people of all faiths closer together by promoting understanding of different perspectives. Enjoy! And if you would like to be interviewed, I am currently looking for someone who can tell me about their viewpoint as a Hindu or Sufi. Just comment here and I'll contact you. Thanks!


Interview With [livejournal.com profile] mr_picard in Germany--thanks again, Alex! Readers: Please note that many of my regular questions didn't apply, but I've retained Alexander's original answers. In some cases, I felt the lack of a traditional answer very illustrative of this belief system itself. In others, I simply appreciated Alex's sense of humor. :D Enjoy.

1.) What is your chosen faith?
- I'm an atheist. Which means I *have* no faith.

2.) Please briefly describe the basis of your faith, as you see it. (Feel free to quote a brief sacred text which illustrates this description
for you.)

- The basis for atheism is that there is no God.

3.) Were you (and your mate) raised in your chosen faith? If not, how did you learn about it?
- (I do not have a mate.) I was not raised an atheist, my parents are/were protestants. I was not raised in that faith, however. I was just baptized as a baby because it's what everyone does. I was sent to a protestant kindergarten because it's what everyone does. I had protestant religion classes in school because I was a protestant. I could have stopped those at least, but then I would have been forced to take ethics classes, which, in my opinion, would have been just as boring. Teenagers don't particularly care for school classes, no matter what subject they're about. ;) I left church a few years ago because I was not about to pay church tax - why would I pay taxes in order to support something I have never believed in?

4.) What is the most compelling element of your chosen faith, for you?
- That I don't have to speculate on what some entity/deity wants or does not want me to do.

5.) How often do you experience others’ prejudices directed toward you regarding your faith(s)? (i.e. daily, weekly? Is this a common or
uncommon occurrence?)

- Fairly uncommon. Religion is not a very important part of peoples' lives over here. An atheist is not uncommon. People just don't really care about such things. It's also not common to talk about your beliefs over here, which is why no one would ask about it unless it's an official function and they need your data for registering you for something (citizenship and such). Religion (or the lack of) is seen as something deeply private.

6.) Would you briefly describe one such incident, how it made you feel and what you did about it?
- I was once bullied via AIM by a right-wing Christian who was telling me all about how wrong I was and how I'd end up in hell. It made me angry. I was not trying to impose anything on him, so why did he feel free to try and pressure me into believing what he did?

7.) If you could dispel the most common misconception about your faith, what would it be and how would you go about it?
- Atheists are not horrible persons. In fact, I think I turned out fairly decently. I am quite capable of behaving despite not having any rules set for myself by whatever deity there is.

8.) If you left a previous faith for the one you now call your own, why did you do so and how do you feel about your previous faith?
- I never had any faith in the first place.

9.) If there were one thing you could change or eliminate about your faith, what would it be?
- Nothing.

10.) Does your faith require certain types of clothing be worn or avoided?
- No.

11.) Does your faith restrict you from eating certain foods?
- No.

12.) What advice would you give to someone who’s considering joining your faith?
- Make it so.

13.) What is your faith’s most widely celebrated holiday, if any? (Brief descriptions welcome.)
- Is there a national atheism day in the US? I don't know. There definitely is none over here.

14.) What are the taboos relating to your faith?
- Only the general taboos that society has agreed upon, but they have nothing to do with atheism.

15.) Does your faith encourage belief in an afterlife? (i.e. heaven, hell, purgatory, nirvana, reincarnation, etc.)
- I don't know. I don't think about such things. Which, I believe, is why I'm an atheist.

16.) Does your faith encourage belief in more than one deity?
- I don't believe in ANY deity.

17.) What healing methods are practiced by your faith? (Brief descriptions encouraged.)
- Medical ones? lol Cold, hard medical science? I don't know.

18.) Does your faith embrace many sects? If so, feel free to name and briefly describe the differences.
- Atheism isn't a faith. It is the lack of faith. Therefore sects, which tend to believe in this or that deity, entity, whatever - would be illogical.

19.) If you are part of a bi-faith marriage, briefly describe an incident you had with a conflict and how you dealt with it…
- A certain bald starship captain I *would* like to marry is one of the most die-hard atheists in the entire galaxy, actually. ;)
midwestbuddha: (dear jesus)
First, some background info: the purpose of these interviews is to bring people of all faiths closer together by promoting understanding of different perspectives. Enjoy! And if you would like to be interviewed, I am currently looking for someone who can tell me about their viewpoint as an Athiest or Jewish person. Just comment here and I'll contact you. Thanks!

Interview With [livejournal.com profile] fleurette:

1.) What is your chosen faith?

I am a Christian...a Christ follower.

2.) Please briefly describe the basis of your faith, as you see it. (Feel
free to quote a brief sacred text which illustrates this description for
you.)


From the Bible; John 3:16; For God so loved the world, He gave his only
begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have
eternal life.

God's son, Jesus, was sent to live as a man, and to take on the sins of man in order to take man's punishment upon Himself, so that we can be saved. God is Holy, untouchable, but through Jesus, who intercedes on our behalf, we can each have a relationship with Him.

3.) Were you (and your mate) raised in your chosen faith? If not, how did you learn about it?

I was raised more or less, in the Roman Catholic Church, which is a major
segment of Christianity. I was baptized, that is, sprinkled with holy water
in a traditional ceremony when I was a baby, and I attended Catholic school
in first and second grades, during which time I took my first Holy
Communion, Protestant Christian school in third and fourth grades, two
(secular) public schools in fifth grade, and back to the same Catholic
school for grades 6 through 8, during which time I was confirmed in the
Church. High school was secular and private, yet it was during that time I did the most spiritual seeking.

My mom was raised in the Roman Catholic tradition, and so my dad, who was
raised Protestant, had to take instruction and promise to raise me Catholic,
but really as a family, we didn't practice the traditions on a regular
basis, and to my mind, became progressively less Catholic in tradition,
though not necessarily less Christian.

I began to discover Christianity in a more personal way during my time in college...and I attended both Catholic Mass and Protestant services. When I was on a retreat with my college Christian group, I discovered people who weren't just trying to convert me, but were real, living their faith, and generously sharing it -- at the end, we wrote notes to each other...kind of like signing a yearbook or something, and the chaplain referred to me as a committed Christian, and I decided, why not?

4.) What is the most compelling element of your chosen faith, for you?

There is nothing we can do to deserve God's love. He gives it
freely if you just ask. God's love and forgiveness is for everyone...even me!

5.) How often do you experience others prejudices directed toward you regarding your faith(s)? (i.e. daily, weekly? Is this a common or uncommon occurrence?)

I've been lucky enough not to have experienced much of this prejudice
directly, but I see it often enough to realize that it is a common
occurrence. Most of the prejudice is directed toward the negative
stereotype of the evangelical Christian. Back when I was in high school and college, the televangelist scandals were at their ugly peak, and it felt almost like there was a stigma attached to being a "born again" Christian, and even now, people sometimes assume you to be close-minded and bigoted if you happen to be Christian.

6.) Would you briefly describe one such incident, how it made you feel and what you did about it?

There was only one incident, in the virtual realm, that is, entirely online. I had a subscriber to my live journal question my faith because I dared to speak as though homosexuals were people who deserve rights like anybody else. That, and the fact that I am not conservative. I don't mind friendly agree to disagree discussions, but this person, who claimed to be Christian, was mean-spirited and advocated murdering other peoples' pets, and wouldn't accept it. I deleted her, of course!

7.) What is your favorite faith tradition?

Probably singing Christmas carols...also, communion. Our church does this monthly...we eat and drink together in remembrance of what Jesus did for us.

8.) If you could dispel the most common misconception about your faith, what would it be and how would you go about it?

I think a huge misconception is that Christians are all alike, and mostly close-minded, conservative, and homophobic. Stereotypes unfortunately have their basis in truth, so it's true that there are Christians who are like that, and make it harder for those who don't fit the stereotype. Not sure how I'd dispel it except to act in such a way that others can see that I am not like that at all.

9.) If you left a previous faith for the one you now call your own, why did you do so and how do you feel about your previous faith?

I never left my faith, but I did switch the way I practiced it. I found a church in which I felt comfortable and accepted in, and it just wasn't Catholic. The Roman Catholic church is a big part of my heritage and a wonderful way to worship...some of the Catholic traditions are beautiful, meaningful, and if your worship there is based on faith, and not just repeating the actions, it can be a true blessing. Christians worship the same God, but not in the same way, and that's perfectly OK.

10.) If there were one thing you could change or eliminate about your faith, what would it be?

I think I'd just encourage more openness and sharing between denominations.

11.) Does your faith require certain types of clothing be worn or avoided?

Not mine personally, though there are requirements/restrictions in some denominations, and among some clergy and other individuals.

12.) Does your faith restrict you from eating certain foods?

No, but again there are some denominations and even some individuals who consider dietary restrictions based on their faith.

13.) What advice would you give to someone whos considering joining your faith?

I'd say go for it...don't worry, you really don't have to be perfect...it's perfectly fine to be a work in progress!

14.) What is your faiths most widely celebrated holiday, if any? (Brief descriptions welcome.)

Christmas and Easter, both celebrated widely and in a secular way, but Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus, and Easter celebrates His resurrection from the dead.

15.) What are the taboos relating to your faith?

Blasphemy...denouncing God, which I think is pretty universal. Some denominations would include specific examples of depravity, sexual immorality, drug and alcohol abuse...but there are a lot of variables.

16.) Does your faith encourage belief in an afterlife? (i.e. heaven, hell, purgatory, nirvana, reincarnation, etc.)

Heaven and Hell. Purgatory as well for Catholics.

17.) Does your faith encourage belief in more than one deity?

Not at all. However, we do believe in the Holy Trinity, which is God the
Father, God the Son (Jesus) and God the Holy Spirit. These are three
persons in the same God...three aspects of one deity, all holy, all
powerful, all knowing.

18.) What healing methods are practiced by your faith? (Brief descriptions encouraged.)

Simple prayer for healing...in which one asks God to heal someone.
Anointing with oil in conjunction with such prayer.
There are sometimes people who God grants the power to heal, but the point is: God is doing the healing, and man is just the instrument.
Healing by the medical profession -- God provides us with skilled people to do his work.

19.) Does your faith embrace many sects? If so, feel free to name and briefly describe the differences.

Many! For example, the Roman Catholic church has many traditions, including praying the rosary...a set of beads, each bead denoting a particular prayer, the sign of the cross, "in the name of the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit (Ghost)" while touching head, chest and shoulders. Sitting, standing, kneeling at different parts of the service. In the Christian and Missionary Alliance church I attend, we sing songs of praise together, and listen to the pastor talk about how the stories in the Bible relate to us...which is actually a common thread between every Protestant and Catholic church service I've ever attended. In many African American churches there is a rich tradition of Gospel music, and there is much loud, worshipful participation...some churches are quiet and traditional, others are louder and more contemporary, but the message is the same!

20.) If you are part of a bi-faith marriage, briefly describe an incident you had with a conflict and how you dealt with it.

I'm not married; although my parents came from different denominations, I
don't consider it bi-faith because they're simply different, yet both valid
traditions of honouring the same God. They never had a problem with it,
though I hear of Catholic/Protestant marriages sometimes going through that.
I would say a couple should try and focus on what they have in common rather than where they differ.


Thank you so much, [livejournal.com profile] fleurette! Feel free to share your experiences with this faith in comments below.

Namaste, all!

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