Jump to content
IGNORED

Personal moral dilemna


2xx1xy1JD

Recommended Posts

I'm going to be deliberately vague in how I phrase this, because it involves personal and identifiable information, but I thought our personal struggle was relevant to some larger issues with religion that we discuss here.

Here is the situation:

Hubby and I attend Outreach Synagogue. We like the rabbi, we like the open and outreach-oriented approach, we enjoy the congregation and have made many friends, and we appreciate what this rabbi does for the community.

Outreach Synagogue is part of a Movement and follows the teachings of a now-deceased Leader. Unlike many synagogues, there is no board elected by the membership. Outreach Synagogue is very clear about its affiliation with the Movement. We appreciate many things about the Movement, including the late Leader's emphasis on reaching out to all Jews, but there are also other teachings/practices of the Leader/Movement that we do not follow, and have no wish to follow. Most of the other congregants are like us.

Now, I'd say that almost 100% of the congregants support a particular Cause. The rabbi comes across as sympathetic to this Cause, and in practice, both the synagogue and the rabbi himself have done a lot to help people involved with/affected by this Cause. However - the official line of the Movement is that the Leader never endorsed the Cause itself, but was merely concerned about the well-being of the Jews involved with/affected by it. Our rabbi doesn't broadcast this point, although he will respond to questions about it if asked.

At an upcoming annual dinner, there is a plan to honor those who have served and sacrificed for the Cause - but certain explicit symbols of the Cause are not going to be permitted.

Unlike other issues, the rabbi has made no effort in this situation to claim that the position of the Movement is correct. Instead, he has said that he pushes the boundaries on several issues, including this one, to the point that he is considered controversial within the Movement, but that explicit symbols of the Movement represent a hard line that he cannot cross without breaking from the Movement entirely, which he does not want to do. He asked us this question, "Would it be better for me to push, give this honor to people and go 85% of the way - or to not deal with this topic at all?"

So - that's the question. Is it better to support work for change from within/not throw the baby out with the bathwater, or to take a stand that we won't participate in an event which sort of disses the Cause even while trying to honor those who worked for it?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, I'm not religious and I'm a pragmatist, but let me ask you this: Are these symbols necessary? More necessary than honoring those who sacrifice(d) for the Cause? Is it truly "dissing" the Cause to refrain from showing these symbols?

To me, without any specific knowledge, I would say that change from within is the way to go, assuming that staying within does not support active wrongdoing. So, staying Catholic and giving money and support to the Catholic Church knowing that my money goes to shielding pedophiles and supporting the spread of AIDS, etc., no I'm not changing within. If, on the other hand, I felt that Planned Parenthood should support a cause, but doesn't, then I'd try to change that from within.

I hope that's helpful.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I live a similar dilemma most days. I am an unembarrassed Lutheran until my pastor and my sister/fellow congregants start in on feminism, reproductive rights, marriage for homosexual couples, etc., and I have to part ways with them entirely when they aver that only those who state verbally and believe in their "hearts" that Jesus is Lord will have a Heavenly existence after death. I believe that God knows our "hearts" and while I do believe Jesus is God and the Savior of the world, I ... simply believe that God knows our "hearts" and will deal with us justly.

So to parallel - very roughly - MJB's mind with that of your rabbi, I say: Push from within. Quietly or noisily, as seems proper and prudent at any given time. What may happen is that Rabbi and yourselves begin to think seriously about whether Leader had all the answers and the exact right way to go.

This is not to say that "what's true for you is true for you." Far from it. I think there is Truth, and that people of good will are searching for it - albeit in an infinitely different number of ways.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I live a similar dilemma most days. I am an unembarrassed Lutheran until my pastor and my sister/fellow congregants start in on feminism, reproductive rights, marriage for homosexual couples, etc., and I have to part ways with them entirely when they aver that only those who state verbally and believe in their "hearts" that Jesus is Lord will have a Heavenly existence after death. I believe that God knows our "hearts" and while I do believe Jesus is God and the Savior of the world, I ... simply believe that God knows our "hearts" and will deal with us justly.

So to parallel - very roughly - MJB's mind with that of your rabbi, I say: Push from within. Quietly or noisily, as seems proper and prudent at any given time. What may happen is that Rabbi and yourselves begin to think seriously about whether Leader had all the answers and the exact right way to go.

This is not to say that "what's true for you is true for you." Far from it. I think there is Truth, and that people of good will are searching for it - albeit in an infinitely different number of ways.

Are you missouri synod or ECLA lutheran? I know the ECLA does gay marriages and has gay pastors and leaders. Just a thought if you ever in the future want to stay Lutheran but find a more accepting branch.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I wonder if it is really "change from within" in this case since you and most of the congregants don't affiliate with the movement. From what I've seen of this movement (you've identified it in previous posts) what happens at an outreach location has little effect on the beliefs of its leaders or on its core communities and institutions.

My opinion would depend on what the cause is and how important it is. If it's a cause that I can agree with but don't really care about, the lack of symbols is fine with me. If it's something I really value, I would be more upset. But then, I probably would not be involved with this movement in the first place because like you, I have disagreements with the teachings.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Are you missouri synod or ECLA lutheran? I know the ECLA does gay marriages and has gay pastors and leaders. Just a thought if you ever in the future want to stay Lutheran but find a more accepting branch.

Thanks, fundiefun! Not to derail 2xx's topic, but my solution (it's imperfect, but it's working) is to have dual citizenship, as it were, in my Lutheran congregation where I can rejoice in God's mercy and love, as well as in a Unitarian-Universalist one, where I know I'm surrounded by people whose beliefs are at least as eclectic as my own. Sometimes I call myself Luutheran, and folks just think it's a typo. ;)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I know the group you are talking about. I think it is possible that I have guessed the issue, though I could be wrong.

TBH, they are part of the reason I am no longer observant. :/

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I wonder if it is really "change from within" in this case since you and most of the congregants don't affiliate with the movement. From what I've seen of this movement (you've identified it in previous posts) what happens at an outreach location has little effect on the beliefs of its leaders or on its core communities and institutions.

My opinion would depend on what the cause is and how important it is. If it's a cause that I can agree with but don't really care about, the lack of symbols is fine with me. If it's something I really value, I would be more upset. But then, I probably would not be involved with this movement in the first place because like you, I have disagreements with the teachings.

You are correct that there is some limit on how much "change from within" can take place, from a theological POV, since Leader is deceased.

Practical actions and attitudes, however, have changed before with respect to this Cause (a previous Leader had been more stridently against it), and while my rabbi may be considered on the fringe on this issue, he is also intimately connected with some of the current leadership. On a practical level, even without endorsing the symbols, there has been genuine action and there's a real possibility of even more action in the future.

I don't entirely disagree with the idea of focusing more on the people affected/involved than on a Cause or its symbols - people ARE more important. I just support the Cause and don't agree with its detractors.

At the same time - the whole issue provoked not only conflict, but also some real conversation with friends and family. We are now in a situation where we are learning more about the Movement, and more actively saying "We support X but do not support Y". My husband is discovering some of the blogs and websites that I've been secretly exploring for the past few years, and I sort of feel bad that I didn't share all of my internal debates and research with him previously.

I'm sure that some of this is guessable - I just didn't want it to be google-able. I also wanted to discuss some of the "baby out with the bathwater" philosophical issues without getting distracted by the strong feelings that both the Movement and the Cause tend to attract.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am not sure of the details...but I do think that one of the many things that impacts change in an organization is change from within. It is why I have opted to continue to participate with the Boy Scouts although we no longer make donations to them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In my opinion, and in my experience with needing to make similar moral choices - supporting a cause while not being able on an institutional level to display symbols of support for that cause still constitutes support for the cause, and that counts for something in my view. It's not the ideal situation, sure, but I am a firm believer in the existence of and the importance of incremental change, both in institutions and in people. Steps in the right direction should be applauded, so that the person or institution making the change can then be encouraged to build on those initial milestones taken toward becoming more enlightened. (This of course assumes that there are already other admirable aspects about the person or group that make an association with them worth continuing.) Insisting that people or groups must change all at once overnight, and shutting them out when they refused to do so, cuts off the continuing conversation and can sometimes cause a greater entrenchment of the very views one is trying to discourage. (Of course, this is just my opinion, and I recognize that this approach requires amounts of patience that are not always feasible. Not every person or institution is worth such a large investment of time.)

Where I draw a much firmer line is when an organization requires me to support a position I disagree with in order to access the good things it provides. For example, although I still have a deep appreciation for the community aspects, music, and social justice work of the Christian church I grew up in, a big part of why I left it behind was no longer feeling that I could recite the various creeds and prayers that required me to attest to things I didn't believe in anymore. So for me, "doesn't fully support the same things I support" is not an instant deal-breaker the way "requires me to espouse things I don't espouse" would be.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.



  • Recent Status Updates

    • BlackberryGirl

      BlackberryGirl

      Ohh jeeze, GrandBerry6 just came to me, snuggled his face in my neck and barfed, all over me. In my neck, in my hair, on my face, down inside my nightie all over the front of my nightie. Ohh FUCK! Bath, washed hair, cleaned sofa. Good times, good times.
      · 0 replies
    • Scrabblemaster

      Scrabblemaster

      I danced through my living room feeling awesome. From time to time I do this. Maybe wine is involved. Good music is definitely involved. It is awesome. I recommend it to you. With or without wine.
      · 2 replies
    • Hazelbunny

      Hazelbunny

      After a few months of trying to decide what kind of new computer to get and my brother telling me a Mac would be the best decision I could ever make and my sister telling me that would be the worst and I ought to stick to Windows.... I now have a used Mac. I am trying to get used to it. Not easy, but the Magnifying program is a lot better than the Windows one (that was the ultimate reason for my decision) and FJ works a lot better than on my 10-year old Laptop, too!!  
      · 0 replies
    • WannabeHistorian

      WannabeHistorian

      Y'all, holter monitors suck. And naturally the palpitations that caused this test to be ordered are remarkably absent today. 
      I'm off to go work out in the hopes that triggers it. T minus 10 hours till I get this thing off. 
      · 4 replies
    • 47of74

      47of74

      Fuck Fornicate.  Glad I got in to see this place before the world went to shit.
       
      · 0 replies
    • PreciousPantsofDoom

      PreciousPantsofDoom

      I frigging hate the toilets at this worksite. Specifically the door locks. Stupid little knoblet that isn't clear if it is locked or not. Door opens right off the main hallway and the toilet is just far enough from the door that I can't just hold the door shut in case I've got the lock wrong. I mean really people, how hard is it to design this? I just want to pee in private with no anxiety. Apparently that is too much to ask for. 
      · 1 reply
    • 47of74

      47of74

      First thing I'm doing when I get to the hereafter is finding the ancestors who moved to the US in the first place and asking them what the fuck they were thinking moving here in the first place.  Along with giving them an epic the reason you suck speech hopefully in the presence of God and the Lord Jesus Christ Himself to all of them for condemning their descendants to living in a shithole.
      · 0 replies
    • feministxtian

      feministxtian

      Its STILL snowing. Its not like I don't have a million things to do and need to take crap to the dumpster. 
      · 2 replies
    • Chocolate Lover

      Chocolate Lover

      Do any of you play Dyson Sphere Program?   For those who don't know what it is I'd suggest Googling it, because there's no way I could do it justice. 
      There's always just one more thing to do before I turn off.  Blink!  And it's 2 hours later.  
      · 0 replies
    • Granwych

      Granwych

      I have a chance to undergo esketamine treatment for depression.  If any FJers have any thoughts, I’d appreciate them.
      · 3 replies
  • Recent Blog Entries

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.