Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Flotsam Filler

Due to increasing complaints that I'm neglecting my readers, I'm going to just put out some of the flotsam and jetsam that's been bouncing around in my head lately to tide you over until something more substantial captures my attention. A sampling of some of the ideas that have passed through that region recently:

Am I religious? How is religiosity defined? Should it be defined by what I believe or by how I act? Or maybe by who I identify with? Or where I want to be? Do I really care? Why am I bothering with this?

How do relationships ever work out?

Do I not care about what's really important, or are things just not really important to me anymore?

What do I believe?

What's the big fuss about the whole Koran-gate scandal? Hasn't anyone heard of "don't shoot the messenger?" (Even if the messenger is mistaken?)

What should I write about on my blog? It's been two weeks since my last post. Don't I have anything consequential to elaborate on?

I love Google Maps. And Google Sightseeing makes it even more fun.

Do people nowadays have mentors? Where can I get one?

Should I start over and go to college?

How can I thrive?

How do I sort out everything in my head?

Will Chayyei Sarah make it to Lag B'omer?

What's considered "having a life?" And who decides that?

Ok, here's something that's more than a snippet. I recently discovered (what I think is) a logical fallacy (or as I used to call it, "a stira minei or bei") in classical frum thinking. On second thought, I have no patience to write it out all detailed and academically. Read it here instead.



Sarah said...

Thanks for the shout-out. :-)

I wish I could offer help somehow with the other questions. They are toughies.

Sarah said...

Actually, I can answer one of your questions. Yes, people have mentors. I have professional mentors (three of my graduate school professors) to whom I turn when I have questions about professional ethics or need advice about, say, applying for Fellowships. And I was recently a mentor to a Barnard sophomore, with whom the college matched me up as part of a sophomore-alumna program. I helped her make decisions about her major, her summer plans, and internship options for next year.

In both cases, the mentorships are focusing mostly on professional matters and came about through an academic program. I'm not sure how you would pick someone to mentor you through a religious identity crisis of the type you are having. The easiest suggestions are to try talking to a therapist or a rabbi or both, but I'm not sure those are the answers you are looking for.

The Hedyot said...

Actually, the areas I would appreciate having a mentor for do not have to do with religious issues. They're more related to my professional and intellectual development.

Anonymous said...

I think man is really incapable of really knowing anything with ceratinty. My philosophy teacher in college was great at showing how very few arguments can actually be proven using rigorous logic. That's one of the main reasons I continue to "believe." I have to live life one way or another and I happen to find that I'll have many more questions leading a secular life than a Jewish one. (Or, to look at it another way: My philosophy teacher (he wasn't a Jew by the way) gave a scenario in which a fire was burning in a room with two doors. The dean of the school tells you which of the two doors leads to safety. You would most probably belive him even though your life is at stake. One can think of choosing Judaism in the same manner.)

Since absolute knowledge is unattainable, religiousity comes in (which you raised in one of your questions). Religiousity, in my opinion, is one's closeness to G-d. The more G-d is constantly in his mind and the more G-d is a part of his life, the more religious a person is. For instance, Rav Kook's letters concerning issues of science and Torah are revealing. He offers some perfunctory answers. However, one senses his disregard for such questions. To him, G-d was such a reality that the questions didn't much bother him. He was sure the questions could be answered one way or another. G-d was so much a part of his being, as much as his hand was, that he didn't doubt His existence for a moment.

While maybe not to this extreme, I believe Rav Kook serves as a good example of what religiousity is. (You also have to read about his pain upon seeing a leaf torn off a tree - again, his sense of G-d in the world. (A recent book, called An Angel Among Men was written about him, focusing on his character - a very heartwarming and inspirational book.))

Anyway, I've written long enough. I hope you'll find something of value in what I wrote.


daat y said...

sorry but you sound depressed.What is meaningful in your life now.

The Hedyot said...

Depressed? Why would you say that? Just becasue I'm thinking about issues like these? Please, don't confuse being preoccupied with figuring out how to understand my life and live it properly with being depressed.

& said...

I can't speak for your particular situation, but a college education is a really useful thing for almost anyone to have these days.

Rachel Ann said...

Here are my answers to your questions. Hope it helps.
I've always believed religion had to do with how you act, not necessarily how you believe, though both are, of course, related. Where you want to be, do you care, and why you are bothering with this are questions that only you can really answer.The sme with whether you care or not about if something is important or if something is important to you and what you believe. These questions are also within this group

"Should I start over and go to college?

How can I thrive?

How do I sort out everything in my head?"

A good therapist can help you find the answers to those questions (a good therapist is there for many more reasons than emotional trauma/mental illness).

Relationships work out by constant work, being honest, but not brutally honest, trying to do for the other rather than demand for yourself, but not to the point of neglecting one's own needs. It is a constant balancing act.

The fuss about Koran-gate is politics. If the democrats were in power the republicans would be defending newsweek and the dems would be screaming.

Why do you have to blog about something "consequential?" Why not just blog about something that made you happy, sad, that you saw as funny or even "Damn life is boring right now."

I'm not certain what you mean by the flaw in classical frum thinking. There was a lot in those comments, could you point me to the one that struck your eye?

As for the mentor, what is your prefession or the profession that you wish to enter. Find someone who is beyond you in ability and ask them their opinons, ask them for help. A good therapist, again, may be able to help you.

brianna said...

I'm going to try and answer as many questions as I can before getting bored. By the way, I love the blog.

Are you asking if you're religious or if you're an orthodox jew? I don't know about other religions, but you are an orthodox jew if you keep shabbos, kosher and don't sleep with niddas. The religion part is behavior. The connection with God is what matters. You care because you feel a pull toward spirituality. You feel like you don't want to bother because of all the bs that goes on.

Relationships do work out, but when they do it's never because it was a "match made in heaven". You have to work at it. Every single solitary day. You have to make it work. You have to genuinely love the person you're with when they're in a bad mood, burnt dinner and forgot to take out the garbage. It's about getting through everything together - the good and the bad. Relationships work when you're not just in it for yourself. And even then, sometimes they don't. But it's worth it to try, or so I hear.

Prioritize, man. Figure out what matters to you and what you believe. It seems that writing comes naturally to you. Write it out sometime. Make lists of the things that matter to you and then figure out what tops the list. Then figure out what you believe the same way. It's difficult and you have to be brutally honest with yourself.

The Koran-gate story is just about stupid partisan politics. Newsweek under attack. Big whoop. It was probably just a publicity stunt. I bet they've sold more mags lately. I mean you couldn't PAY for all the publicity they've gotten.

Some people have one mentor. Others just have a few people they highly respect and learn from. Look for those gems and you'll find them. I don't know what I'd do without the adults in my life who actually know what they're talking about and point out when I don't.

Hmmm, college is a big deal. Write out a cost/benifit analysis (the good points of college on one side vs. the cost - financial and otherwise). I love college because hey my parents pay for now and it opens my eyes to topics I wouldn't have been interested in before. It might be a good idea to just take a few courses and see if that's what you want.

Having a life means that you wake up every morning with stuff to get done. Stuff you find interesting. It's about what you think having a life is, what you're satisfied with. It's a subjective thing. Someone who likes to party might think that they have a life, while someone who likes to study may think that THEY have a life and the guy who parties doesn't.

Wow, I think I attempted to answer all the questions. G'night. Hope I helped you a bit.

Sarah said...

Well, here's one definite answer:

Yes, I made it 'til Lag B'Omer! Go, me!

Chayyei Sarah