The Role of Cultural Introspection in College Teaching
Edited By Susan Diana Longerbeam and Alicia Fedelina Chávez
Chapter Twenty-One: Running from Religion: Finding My Reconstructionist Academic Culture
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CHAPTER TWENTY - ONE
Running From Religion
Finding My Reconstructionist Academic Culture
Global Languages and Cultures Northern Arizona University
I have spent most of my life running away from my religion. As a child, in Louisville, Kentucky, I felt annoyed when my father would pronounce with pride that some brilliant actor, author, or artist was Jewish, as if our religion had something to do with their accomplishments. The concept of a “chosen people” always struck me as arrogant and exclusionary. I never felt connected with Jewish religious services. As a boy, I would pass what felt like an eternity counting the big round lightbulbs that hung from the high ceiling in Temple Adath Israel. It was boring. I never felt comfortable praying to God. If God had the power to intercede on our behalf, the atrocities of the Conquest, the genocide of American Indians, the Holocaust, terrible accidents, diseases, and the famines that afflict people would not occur. If God were all-powerful, there would be no losers in football games. The nail in my coffin of religiosity came the day that Rabbi Waller repeated ad nauseum the importance of a new building, beseeching in his amplified tenor voice that congregation members dig deep and donate to raise the money to build “a new, a new, a new building” for a Temple in the suburbs. They sold the old downtown Temple—a neo-classical building...
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