(Continued from part 1.)
But as I kept reading, I realized I was only looking for ways to validate my own prejudices--and there were few. This was a sincere and beautiful story, although I was reminded at times of a friend who goes on and on and on about what she ate for lunch, what this cute guy said, and so forth, instead of getting to the point. You don't stop being friends, but sometimes just want to grab the person by the shoulders and shake. The author's comparisons of Christian and Jewish holidays and her reflections on Talmud were far more interesting to me than the details of her life.
Halfway through the book when I realized, despite the very many words, that she would never explain exactly why she converted, I suddenly felt much closer to this author. I saw a little of myself in her roundabout way of telling the story, her grappling with an acute, indescribable magnificence. Her God--just like herself--lived in more than one religion, and Christianity was her best way to celebrate this awesome mystery. But never does she disparage the religion she left, and she frequently draws upon the wisdom of her first path. I think my initial fear was that this book would be an anti-Jewish polemic; I really appreciated her completely opposite approach.
She describes her moment of revelation as a love that always existed, even when hidden from her. I feel this way about Judaism, a world whose language I didn't possess until I stumbled upon it. And then it fit perfectly. Part of me is a little afraid that one day it won't, the same terror of possible abandonment I felt after 9/11. But the rest of me knows that as each doubt compels me to learn more, I continue to fall into even greater love with my tradition, my community, and all the quirks and bits of glory that come with it.
p.s.: Happy 400th post!
I hear you about occasionally wanting to shake her a little, as one might want to shake a good friend whose anecdotes were on the rambly side. :-) I'm fascinated by your point that you felt closer to her once it became clear she wasn't going to offer a simple, bite-sized explanation for her conversion. I hadn't thought about it in those terms, but I think I'm with you, there. I also felt some fear that this book would feel anti-Jewish to me -- that she would seem to be saying, "I used to be a Jew, but then I wised up, and you should too" -- but I didn't get that message at all. Instead, I found I enjoyed the way she brings her Jewish background to her new tradition. (That line about how reading the Christian Scriptures without their secondary texts feels as weird to her as reading Torah without Rashi -- that continues to crack me up.)
Also, happy 400th post!! Holy wow; mazal tov. May you go from strength to strength, and all that good jazz. :-)
"Her God--just like herself--lived in more than one religion,"
I liked this quote of yours, aa. I have been struggling for so long to find out where my God lives, but the more I think He is in only one place, the more I know He is everywhere...
thank you for your very sincere and honest reflection on this book.
Rachel, thank you, and I'm looking forward to 400 more! (Wow, that's a daunting thought...) And thank you again for posting your terrific review, and giving me much wonderful food for thought. I look forward to her NEXT book about this in 10 or 20 years, after she's completely embraced her new direction.
Regina Clare Jane, I agree--everywhere! Which is such a comforting thought for me whevener I think I can't find God in the place I happen to be looking...
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