All posts tagged customs

Leaving family traditions behind

I find it can be helpful to examine one’s own culture by analogy, considering another set of customs to which one is an outsider. In this spirit, I hope you’ll enjoy this comic from Pictures for Sad Children (click for the full image): For those of you who used to ritually feast on the flesh […]

I’ll wish you a Merry Christmas

Odds are you’ve seen this image floating around the ‘net. If you haven’t, it’s high time you give it a read. It seemed most appropriate to save it until today to post. I wrestle with the idea of participating in certain explicitly religious customs, because it’s important to me not to legitimize and encourage baseless […]

The surreality of the season

As a non-Christian who is ever more aware of that aspect of her identity, I’m finding the Christmas season an increasingly strange and surreal one. There are three major ways, I think: The “Christmas story” does not actually appear anywhere in the Bible. It’s a hodgepodge of bits of stories from each of the gospels, […]

It’s just how you were raised

I’m always surprised at how easy it is to steer a conversation with a religious person to a point where they’ll openly tell you, “Yeah, to some extent the reason why I’m [whatever religion] is that that’s just how I was brought up.” My go-to question when discussing beliefs with a religious person is, “Why […]

Ritual torture, for Jesus!

Well, here’s a story to read while you’re sitting down. And ideally while you’re not in the middle of a meal, just about to eat, or just finished eating. SEOUL — A South Korean taxi driver said to have extreme religious views has been found dead on a crucifix after an apparent attempt to emulate […]

Jewish missionaries at work

An alert reader sent me this New York Times video about Chabad Lubavitch Jews taking their message to the streets. Most Jews are really not involved in evangelism of any kind, and that gives this piece a sort of Bizarro World feel. But according to Wikipedia, “Mitzvah tanks are put into operation on the eve […]

The wicked child at Passover

Jews have an interesting relationship with the idea of logical argumentation. I have always been somewhat impressed with the Jewish attitude towards arguing with God, as exemplified in the story of Abraham’s convincing God to spare the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah if there are even ten innocent and righteous people living there. (True, God […]

Sunrise, sunset

The Best of Wikipedia blog recently featured this fascinating article on Jewish law in the polar regions. Essentially, the issue is that the particular rules for many mitzvot depend on the rising and setting of the sun. As you go to extreme latitudes, that sort of definition of a day breaks down. Inside the Arctic […]

Some thoughts on baptism

It may surprise you to learn that I was baptized when I was a baby. My family attended a Protestant church before we became a part of a UU congregation, so when I was born, baptism was the thing to do. I don’t remember it (obviously), and it wasn’t a big thing in my immediate […]

Religious beliefs and moral stagnation

You often hear people insisting that religion is a real force for good in the world. This is of course not a good reason to believe religion’s factual claims, but I also think that the assertion isn’t true in the first place (overall). Earlier this week we got another vivid example of what I’m talking […]