Saturday, October 4, 2014

Rituals and Beliefs

Last night a student asked me off the record what my personal religious beliefs were. I said that although I was a convinced agnostic, I did very much appreciate the beauty and function of many of the traditions in which I was raised and live. These rituals, I suggested, enabled us, among other things, to celebrate together and to grieve together. We are not at a loss about what to do, what to say, etc. because it is all scripted for us and the meaning and significance is understood by us all. These ritual events nudge us to take time out from the every day forest to take a look at the beauty and wonder and sometimes sadness of the trees. Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur starting next Wednesday night are traditionally known as the days of awe - days of appreciation, of self-reflection, when we are urged to ask those whom we may have offended to forgive us (only they can, not even God can).

These are beautiful traditions, that require action not belief. And they certainly do no harm.

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