In general, I’d rather have a stranger show me his penis than talk to me about God. I mean, my actual preference is that he doesn’t do either and just leaves me the fuck alone or gives me a foot massage instead, but if I had to choose between god-talk or penis- it’s penis almost every time. Unless it’s some kind of extreme situation- like if the stranger is one of those Yogis who spend their whole life tugging at their penis until it’s so long they can wind it around their forearm like an extension cord; or if it’s one of those Super-Distrubing-Sleepaway-Camp-Crying-Game-I-Think-she’s-a-Chick-til-I-See-Her-Big-Dick sort of scenarios unless that chick is Michelle Bachman or it happens during a WNBA game and ends up on SportsCenter (Worst of the Worst- five weeks running!) (BTW- even if Michelle Bachman had a penis, the Tea-Party crazies would still like her more than Romney. In Evangelical circles, Chick with Dick trumps Mormon with Healthcare Plan every single time. Especially if she pledges not to actually use her penis, like Gingrich.) I mean, if Tim Tebow were to pull his pants down and his cup off after scoring a touchdown and holler “this is for Big Willie and the Low Riders” (or whatever he calls his organs- “Frank and the Beans”? “Jonah and the Whales”? “JC and the…” too far?) I would think of him as rakish and charming rather than a dangerous, evil religious fanatic (unless he shaved John 3:16 down there- though that would be a absolute boon for Evangelical manscaping professionals throughout Colorado.)
Don’t get me wrong- there are some types of god-talk I really enjoy. I’m a big fan of the up-all-night pseudo-philosophical college-freshman style bullshit sessions. The kind of conversations you have when you combine an eighth ounce of kind bud, a really clean bong and a semester of Intro to Comparative Religions so that you’re ready to unleash such earthshaking revelations as “Did you realize that all religions basically say the SAME THINGS???” (gasp!) (“If you think about it, man, Jesus is just Buddha with six pack abs and a guilt complex. Are you going to eat that Pop-Tart?”) and you quote such noted religious authorities as Jonathan Livingston Seagull and XTC to support your arguments (“Did you make mankind after we made you? And the DEVIL, too??? Dear God!”) What can I say? I’m a sucker for this kind of talk. I guess I’m just an overgrown college freshman at heart- even though when I try and hang out with college freshmen they flee in terror like extras in the 50’s sci-fi classic Attack of the 40 Year Old Lame-Ass.
So, sure, I’m ok discussing religion on an academic/secular/philosophical/historical/literary/stoned out of my mind sort of level – but what makes me uncomfortable is the difficult subject of Faith. As a card-carrying member of Generation X (the card is totally blank except for the word “card” in the middle. You can get them on Jeanine Garofalo’s website) I view any overt demonstration of “faith”, “conviction” or “sincerity” with sarcasm, contempt and “air quotes.” After all, I’m part of the apathy generation- the ones who wore flannel and ripped jeans because we couldn’t be bothered to give a crap about how we looked (aah, those were good times. Corporate Casual can suck my dick)- we’re bored, ironic and alienated- over it before we could give “it” a chance to show us just how much “it” sucks. Mock first, ask questions later- that’s how we roll (NOTE: ironic use of “how we roll”). Hell, we’re so ironic that one of the anthems of our generation is a song which incorrectly defines the whole concept of irony in a totally ironic fashion (10,000 spoons when all you need is a knife? Trust me, I’ve accidentally bought that bag of plastic silverware at Target and it’s not ironic, just a big pain in the ass at a picnic.) I mean, I can’t even have a serious conversation about remodeling my kitchen, how the hell am I supposed to talk seriously about believing in “God”?
It doesn’t help that a lot of true-believer types are totally cray-cray. Whether it’s ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel throwing rocks at a second grade girl for showing too much skin by wearing short sleeves (I wish that was hyperbole), Islamic suicide bombers or Rick Perry wearing his Brokeback Mountain ensemble to talk about how being a Christian means that it’s ok to hate gay people (now THAT’s irony. Are you watching, Alanis? Or are you dead? I haven’t really been paying attention. NOTE TO SELF: Google “Alanis Morissette Dead?” ) hardcore religious types aren’t doing God any favors. And, honestly, God’s not helping himself any by letting them get away with it. I mean, I don’t want to tell that guy how to run his universe, but if a whole bunch of people were acting like complete assholes in my name, I’d want everyone to know that I had nothing to do with it. Hell, I practically stopped speaking to one of my friends because I referred him for a construction job and he stole a pair of jeans from the J.C. Penny’s they were working on- just imagine how pissed off I’d be if he blew himself up on a bus. Not that I’m comparing myself to God or anything, but, I’ve got a beard and some pretty crazy friends so I know how he must feel some days (though I wouldn’t hang out with guys like Rick Santorum and Osama Bin Ladin no matter how much they kissed my ass. You know, for somebody who’s all powerful, God can be pretty desperate. It’s like- hey, dude, maybe if you learned how to look in the mirror and praise yourself you wouldn’t need us to constantly be validating you. Seriously, dude- five times a day, three times a day- come on man, it’s exhausting already. I don’t know if eternal salvation is worth it if I’ve got to worship a needy whiner like Adele my whole life. Seriously, God, if that’s the way you’re going to be, then I don’t know that I want to pray to Someone Like You.)
OK- so- I’m not comfortable talking about faith, not at all sure I believe in any type of God (or would even want to hang out with him if it actually turns out that he exists), not crazy about super religious types and I’m a hopelessly incurable wiseass who can’t take anything seriously and feels obligated to pour scorn and derision over everything I encounter like Angry Ranch Dressing on the browning limp lettuce of adult disappointment. So- why am I looking for a synagogue? Am I I that desperate for free hunks of spongecake and tiny cups of wine on Saturday mornings (Worst. Brunch. Ever)?
The truth is- I don’t know. But, I do know that despite my sarcasm and agnosticism, I still lead a mean Seder, fast on Yom Kippur, light candles on Hanukkah and get drunk on Purim (that one may just be a happy coincidence). I don’t know whether my Jewishness is cultural, spiritual, social, or nostalgic, but I do know that it’s an inextricable part of me and one that seems to be calling for further exploration in the coming year. Wow. So that’s what it’s like to be sincere about something. I feel like one of those over-earnest-Gen-Y-wide-eyed-Millennial-Martian-types. Ick. I need a shower. Somebody put on Jane’s Addiction quick before I feel the urge to start giving a crap about the world and Occupying something.
So- over the next few months, my plan is to try out a variety of Temples around Los Angeles in an effort to find one that I like and document my search here on JCast. I’m open to all suggestions- so if you’re in LA or know of a Temple around here- please feel free to suggest. I do have a few general preferences:
Hebrew, Hebrew, Hebrew and lots of it: I don’t want to hear a bunch of polite, back and forth cracker-ass responsive readings in English. If the services don’t sound like a room full of bears choking on salmon and coughing up phlegm- I’m not buying. The fact is, Judaism is like Opera- the less you understand it, the cooler it all sounds. Trust me, you post-Vatican II Catholics don’t know what you’re missing.
Egalitarianism: I may not seem like much of a feminist, but I’ve been to an Indigo Girls concert or two, so I can’t exactly throw my support behind some temple that hides all the women behind a wall and makes them all wear wigs. I realize the logic is that the women should be hidden so that the men aren’t distracted- but I don’t think it’s fair to use the “she was asking for it defense” to explain why you had a boner during services. Seriously, dude, if you’re praying with your dick, it’s nobody’s fault but yours.
Intermarriage-Friendly: I may have made some foolish or questionable life-choices, but there’s no way I’m going to let someone judge me for the best damn decision I’ve ever made. Damn it, another sincere thought. At this rate, I’ll have to turn in my “card”.
Supportive of Israel: but not like Super Crazy-Ass Supportive of Israel: Israel’s a great country. I spent some time there growing up and I love it as much as anybody. But good countries, like good people, can do some pretty stupid things some-times and unless we can honestly talk about these things, the situation’s never going to get any better.
Friendly and Welcoming: Look, if I wanted to feel worthless and inadequate, I’d be writing a series about joining a gym. I’m not looking to join some Congregation Gates of Money or Temple Beth Judgie-Pants- I want to find somewhere that I actually enjoy going to and doesn’t make me feel like I’m trying to get into Sky Bar. No Jews are cool enough to be worth that.
Right, so there you have it- my first seriously Jewy post. I hope this didn’t make you feel too uncomfortable. Trust me, this was way better than showing you my genitals, or “Judah and the Maccabees” as I now unabashedly call them. Wish me “luck”- and please, send me any suggestions you’ve got- doing research involves just giving a little bit more of a crap than I’m used to doing. They don’t call us the apathy generation for nothing.
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