Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Make new friends and keep the old
(but only if they're Christian).

I heard of such things, but I didn't believe they really existed, at least not among nice people. I figured the concept was just something people threw around to try to prove a point of bigotry. Sure, some bigotry exists, but I didn't believe it really existed in such an outright and confusing form.

People really exist who won't be friends with people who are not Christian. Please excuse me while I find my jaw and pick it up off the floor.

What's even "better," people--sweet nice people, won't be my friend because I'm not Christian.

The one in question (and I suspect now that there have been others) isn't some mythological awful vicious beast. She's nice. She's very sweet. She and I have a lot in common. I often invite her to parties and events and she always declines. I figured she was just busy with her large family and many commitments. Nope, she's just...Christian.

This blows my mind. I don't understand it at all. I tried discussing it with a (Christian) friend who laments that she's on the opposite side. She knows she has friends who are ONLY friends with her because she's Christian. She tried to explain the rationale to me as she's actually had this conversation with some friends including the one in question.

Turns out some people believe only fellow Christians can share their goals, beliefs and philosophies. I find this so odd because, for years, I recognized that my parenting style and goals were most similar to a fundamental Christian friend. Politically and religiously, we were polar opposites, but our goals in life (menschkeit, even if she probably wouldn't refer to it as such) and parenting were the same. We had a lot of fun together and we had some great discussions. She once called me, "Insightful," which, to this day, I think is the best compliment I've ever received. My life and my children's lives are richer because she and her children were a part of them.

In addition, I've been told that, some Christians basically have the idea that, "You're going to hell anyway and I'm not, so why bother getting attached?" Hold on. There goes my jaw again. Must go chase it as it rolls under my desk.

Now, I know many (if not most) branches of Christianity believe that faith in Jesus is the only way to heaven. Funny, though, many of those claim that their and only their exact interpretation of Jesus will drop you on the yellow brick road to heaven. Everyone else is either headed to hell's western shore or will have to renounce their beliefs in the end times. Honestly, I find that offensive. Go ahead and pat me on the head and say, "Oh, that's a cute little doily your son has on his head, but I'm right and you're wrong and in the end, you'll just toss that in the trash and hand him a 'Jesus Rocks' baseball cap instead."

Judaism believes it's actually EASIER to be a good person if you're not Jewish. We have 613 laws to follow. The rest of you have only 7 fairly simple ones (among others, don't murder people or eat a live animal and you're good to go).

In Judaism, we don't focus on the afterlife. Whereas Christian texts write extensively about heaven, we Jews know very little about what the world to come has to offer. That's because our focus is on the here and now. If we worry about our behavior here, the rest will take care of itself. So my concern is not who I'll share a booth with in the next life, it's who I'm sharing a drink with in THIS life and how I treat him or her.

I'm just stunned and in disbelief that this not only happens, but has happened to me and that it's done by otherwise nice people. What a shame! What an absolute shame!


kaboogie said...

Wait, wait. You're JEWISH? And your Christian friend ditched you? I'm flummoxed. I thought, when I started reading, you were going to be pagan, wiccan or athiest. Now I'm just confused. I could almost understand those things, even though I have many friends with those beliefs also and find no reason to drop them.

My BEST FRIEND in the whole world, is Jewish. My Catholic 6 yr old joins her at temple (they have better desserts, you know), and I just attended her son's bris. I would give up ANY other friend, but not her. She seems to not understand that Christians and Jews are bound, inextricably, by our God. Our church and her temple do many charitable events together and have an interfaith service every year.

I'm so sad that your friend doesn't understand. And for you I hope she some day understands that we're all brothers & sisters.

Mari said...

I question any portion of any religion that promotes judgement and (essentially) hate. I have been told before that I'm on the fast train to hell because I don't belong to a particular Christian mega mart and also that I can't possibly have morals as I don't interpret the Bible the same way as another person does. Both statements made out of sheer ignorance, but how amazing that in this day and age, they can be made at all.
You, my dear, are a hard rocking star. And I'll yell at anyone who tells you otherwise.

Heather Griffith Brewer said...

I'm actually a little more curious about the "differences" that we all have. I'm intrigued by religions in general, although I don't "belong" to any. I believe that God is more pleased with a person who is kind and compassionate than someone who just goes to church every day, or week, or holiday. I know I'm far from perfect, and I accept that others are too.
I would be proud to share a meal with you...even a Kosher one. Scratch that, especially a Kosher one.
But I might ask a ton of questions.

Reiza said...

We do belong to an organized religion, but I'm with you, Heather, I've always been curious about other religions, faiths and other peoples' spiritual paths.

At the gym I used to frequent, the head of sales was a preacher's daughter. The woman who worked the front desk was Muslim and wore a head covering. We loved that, every morning, we would all get together and chat. Friends used to comment that we looked like the beginning of a joke all gathered around the front desk "A Christian, A Muslim and a Jew walk into a gym."

Mari, thank you. I will proudly wear the "Rock star" title. :-)

I'm often the token Jew and that's fine by me. I'm usually the answerer of questions and I like it. Usually, I have no problem and I often tell people there are no stupid questions (really, there are, but they're only asked by those with an agenda. If someone is genuinely curious, nothing he/she could ask is stupid).

Anonymous said...

Wow. I am a Christian and was completely shocked by this post (although I guess I shouldn't be, as sad as that is to say.) Those who call themselves Christians are supposed to be doing the exact opposite- NOT huddling together and shunning the outside world but making friends and serving others.


In other news- I've had several very good Jewish (and Muslim and pagan and agnostic...) friends growing up. I deeply respect Jewish culture and tradition and I look forward to reading more of your blog. (Also- you praise Librarians so much I can't stop reading!)