One of my ten best friends (she wouldn’t have guessed she was in the top ten; but so it goes…) has been doing these ridiculously entertaining "Torah Talks" on a — how to describe it? — unpredictable website called lukeford.net. They’re covering everything awesome in this latest talk — from the nature of G-d to the nature of sex to close readings of Genesis and so on.I really recommend you watch some of these videos, but I want to focus briefly on the last one (scroll to the bottom of the page). In the video, Monica’s making a superstar point about how knowledge can bring melancholy — Luke, our moral leader, asks the question: "Like which knowledge has been the most… unhappiness-giving?" Here’s Monica’s reply (starting around the 2:10 mark in that last video on the page):
The more I learn about religion, the more I learn about Judaism, the more I learn about the Hebrew Bible, the more I study it – it’s kind of a paradox because in many ways I feel closer to G-d, but in other ways I feel farther because I learn so many things about like the construction of the text and so on and so forth that, like, I don’t know any more, I don’t know the answer. I don’t know… what G-d is anymore. I don’t know. I mean I know—I know the Hebrew Bible, that I know, but I don’t know what that means… I think that… that’s just, it’s scary, I mean there’s something liberating about it, but I think it can be kinda frightening too. Like it’s easier just to know – that’s what’s so easy about Christianity… it’s… just, Jesus is [inaudible]. That’s so easy.
My favorite part of this learned discussion is when Monica refuses to choose between Judaism and Christianity because that would be binary:
My whole thing about being confused does, in fact, stem from my being pulled in both directions. My history is in Christianity, and I can’t deny this because it is what led me to do what I do today, and it is what compelled me to love the sacred texts as much as I do. But it is Judaism that opened them up for me in a new way and showed me a way to love G-d again in the wake of (what I experienced as) Christian legalism and hypocrisy. Whenever my Bible as Lit students used to ask me whether I was Christian or Jewish, I would say "Both, and neither." And that’s complicated, but for me it’s more authentic than choosing one side of a binary religious construction. But, then, as I implied, sometimes it would just be easier to pick one…