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Old 12-12-2012, 10:43 AM
 
8 posts, read 5,998 times
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I grew up as an Orthodox Jew in Brooklyn, New York. My family, along with the entire Hasidic community were very strict regards to keeping our religious practice. We were not allowed to use any computer, internet, non-Jewish games, no TV, no electronics, no non-Orthodox Jewish friends, turn our face when we passes thru churches, not allowed to mention Jesus. We were also forced to wear modesty clothes and all of that silly and insulting lifestyle.

I decided to leave my family when I turned 20, and left my community. I was told by my family to not talk with them anymore (because I 'embarrassed' them). Thankfully I've got a great job and married a Christian guy.

However since I left my Jewish faith, it's hard for me to believe anything in the Torah (Hebrew scriptures), but when I have gone to church with my hubby, it makes me feel great reading the gospels of Christ, and I love his words and teaching. But it seems like I don't believe some of it.

Am I an atheist? I'm confused!!
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Old 12-12-2012, 11:10 AM
 
Location: Northeastern US
14,197 posts, read 9,102,293 times
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You are probably not an atheist.

To be an atheist you don't have to claim absolute knowledge that there is no god, but you have to disbelieve in any god(s). Disbelief means that you don't believe ... you might allow for it as a very slight possibility but you think god(s) to be about as likely as unicorns and fairies.

This is a surprisingly nuanced subject though. Remember that the most ardent, Bible-thumping Christian or the most observant orthodox Jew is an unbeliever in SOME gods. You have probably never believed in Thor or Odin or Shiva, nor did your parents, nor do any of your husband's church friends. Atheism, strictly speaking, is an inability to believe in any sort of god at all, even the impersonal / uninvolved god of the deist.

My guess is that you believe some sort of god is possible or even likely but doubt that it is the one currently being presented to you in church -- or at least doubt that it's an accurate and comprehensive presentation. If the idea of a godless universe is unthinkable or at least uncomfortable to you, then you probably are still a theist, just one who hasn't found your "one true god" yet.

Given your background it is likely that you are transitioning to less and less doctrinaire ideas about life and that the endpoint of your personal journey may be atheism, but it's also quite possible that you'll find a steady state somewhere short of that. However, as an atheist, I can assure you that you need not fear the possibility that your doubts about god will mature into unbelief. Unbelief is not a place of dispair and hopelessness ... you are not in despair and hopelessness because you're without Thor, for example.

You're apt to have very conflicted feelings about anything related to god for a long time and the best way to put that behind you may be to put god behind you altogether, but I wouldn't pretend to know what's best for you. I'm sure you'll figure it out. The fact that you have the analytical ability and courage to ask about it here tells me you'll be fine, no matter what you decide.

Congratulations on your deconversion. I'm a deconverted evangelical Christian and I know it's never an easy path. Hang in there, and keep an open mind.
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Old 12-12-2012, 11:23 AM
 
8 posts, read 5,998 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mordant View Post
You are probably not an atheist.

To be an atheist you don't have to claim absolute knowledge that there is no god, but you have to disbelieve in any god(s). Disbelief means that you don't believe ... you might allow for it as a very slight possibility but you think god(s) to be about as likely as unicorns and fairies.

This is a surprisingly nuanced subject though. Remember that the most ardent, Bible-thumping Christian or the most observant orthodox Jew is an unbeliever in SOME gods. You have probably never believed in Thor or Odin or Shiva, nor did your parents, nor do any of your husband's church friends. Atheism, strictly speaking, is an inability to believe in any sort of god at all, even the impersonal / uninvolved god of the deist.

My guess is that you believe some sort of god is possible or even likely but doubt that it is the one currently being presented to you in church -- or at least doubt that it's an accurate and comprehensive presentation. If the idea of a godless universe is unthinkable or at least uncomfortable to you, then you probably are still a theist, just one who hasn't found your "one true god" yet.

Given your background it is likely that you are transitioning to less and less doctrinaire ideas about life and that the endpoint of your personal journey may be atheism, but it's also quite possible that you'll find a steady state somewhere short of that. However, as an atheist, I can assure you that you need not fear the possibility that your doubts about god will mature into unbelief. Unbelief is not a place of dispair and hopelessness ... you are not in despair and hopelessness because you're without Thor, for example.

You're apt to have very conflicted feelings about anything related to god for a long time and the best way to put that behind you may be to put god behind you altogether, but I wouldn't pretend to know what's best for you. I'm sure you'll figure it out. The fact that you have the analytical ability and courage to ask about it here tells me you'll be fine, no matter what you decide.

Congratulations on your deconversion. I'm a deconverted evangelical Christian and I know it's never an easy path. Hang in there, and keep an open mind.
I appreciate your respond.

When I go to church, I love listening to beautiful church songs, looking at historical images, and I love reading the gospels of Christ. But, it's seems hard for me to believe "water turned into wine", "walk on water" and those miracles. I watched the movie Passion of the Christ, and it made me feel even more in love with Christianity and Jesus.
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Old 12-12-2012, 11:46 AM
 
Location: Northeastern US
14,197 posts, read 9,102,293 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MaliNY View Post
I appreciate your respond.

When I go to church, I love listening to beautiful church songs, looking at historical images, and I love reading the gospels of Christ. But, it's seems hard for me to believe "water turned into wine", "walk on water" and those miracles. I watched the movie Passion of the Christ, and it made me feel even more in love with Christianity and Jesus.
Judaism is as much a cultural identity as a religious one. You have lost not just your family, which is bad enough, but the positive aspects of your cultural identity. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it sounds to me like you're enjoying a sense of community and belonging with this church family that is a safe distance, ideologically, from the unsavory aspects of the sect you grew up in.

If this is not a terribly doctrinaire denomination / church, where you are pressured into openly agreeing with a narrow (usually literal) interpretation of things like miracles, then enjoy your newfound home and let the other stuff go. If you're fortunate enough to be in a fairly liberal denomination (e.g., most churches belonging to "mainline" denominations like Lutheran or Presbyterian), such topics need never come up unless you allow them to. Some people may be very conservative but the group as a whole is not going to get their knickers in a twist about your exact beliefs and in fact many people don't even think deeply about it. For many in such churches it is just a social club, a source of comfort when you're sick or bereaved, perhaps, but for the most part, people don't take their faith nearly so seriously as you've been conditioned to assume. Coming as I do from a fairly (though not rabidly) conservative sub-group, I'm continually amazed at Christians who don't much care about things like smoking, divorce, and other typical peccadilloes, and especially I don't know why they bother if they hardly know what they even believe and why. In turn, I'm sure there are people from over the top snake-handling pentecostal or hyper conservative churches who would be amazed that I was never concerned about hem lengths, high heels, lipstick, or the occasional mild cuss word. So if your present church home is too invasive about your lack of conformity to their statement of beliefe or to their daily practice, find one that's more relaxed. You get the benefits without the hassle that way.

Also you probably know this but again given your background may need objective third parties to tell you once in awhile ... to the extent there even IS a "correct" belief it is up to YOU to decide what that is for yourself and it's okay to disagree with specific teachings. Don't let the fact that you disagree with some of the teachings rob you of the entire experience unless you feel violated or controlled by the group, in which case you're probably not in the right group. Don't assume the problem is with you and that you "ought" to buy everything someone says hook line and sinker just because they wear a funny backwards collar ;-)
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Old 12-12-2012, 12:34 PM
 
Location: Parts Unknown, Northern California
41,194 posts, read 18,619,681 times
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Your focus seems to be on how religion makes you feel. If we postulate that as the standard for faith/no faith, then it is entirely up to you to decide which way you want to go.

The actual credibility of any of the beliefs offered by organized theologies is a different matter. If you are not concerned with your feelings and your interest is entirely....is this true or not true...then it becomes vital for you to divorce yourself of the associated emotions and make a determination based purely on the evidence available.
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Old 12-12-2012, 12:44 PM
 
Location: Vermont
10,322 posts, read 11,247,771 times
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Well done.

From my reading I know that there are some fundamentalist sects like the one you grew up in that do what they can to prevent their members from learning about the world outside the sect and from questioning anything they are taught. It's not surprising that when members like you decide to leave they may be at a loss for how to proceed.

I have heard of online communities or support groups for people like you who have left ultra-orthodox sects, but it's been a while so I can't put my finger on that information. It's out there, though, and I encourage you to look for them.
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Old 12-12-2012, 12:58 PM
 
Location: Vermont
10,322 posts, read 11,247,771 times
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For Ex-Orthodox, More Than a Game

Here's a story that gives you some links. I hope it's helpful.
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Old 12-12-2012, 03:25 PM
 
Location: Sinking in the Great Salt Lake
13,143 posts, read 19,222,888 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MaliNY View Post
I grew up as an Orthodox Jew in Brooklyn, New York. My family, along with the entire Hasidic community were very strict regards to keeping our religious practice. We were not allowed to use any computer, internet, non-Jewish games, no TV, no electronics, no non-Orthodox Jewish friends, turn our face when we passes thru churches, not allowed to mention Jesus. We were also forced to wear modesty clothes and all of that silly and insulting lifestyle.

I decided to leave my family when I turned 20, and left my community. I was told by my family to not talk with them anymore (because I 'embarrassed' them). Thankfully I've got a great job and married a Christian guy.

However since I left my Jewish faith, it's hard for me to believe anything in the Torah (Hebrew scriptures), but when I have gone to church with my hubby, it makes me feel great reading the gospels of Christ, and I love his words and teaching. But it seems like I don't believe some of it.

Am I an atheist? I'm confused!!
There are plenty of us around here who were raised in strict religious circumstances only to turn our back on them.

Something that helped me reconcile myself and the religion of my birth was the realization that religion and culture were separate things but that I was raised to see them as the same thing. A religion can be technically wrong when it comes to facts but culture isn't right or wrong... it just is.

Perhaps you shouldn't turn your back on your Jewish culture... it is an integral part of who you are. Maybe you would find peace in a less restrictive form of Judaism?
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Old 12-13-2012, 12:00 AM
 
Location: Athens, Greece
526 posts, read 580,473 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MaliNY View Post
I grew up as an Orthodox Jew in Brooklyn,
...
I decided to leave my family when I turned 20,
....
However since I left my Jewish faith, it's hard for me to believe anything in the Torah (Hebrew scriptures), but when I have gone to church with my hubby, it makes me feel great reading the gospels of Christ, and I love his words and teaching. But it seems like I don't believe some of it.

Am I an atheist? I'm confused!!
You are a good quality human being.
That is what you are and you can never be a believer. If more Jews were thinking the way you do the Jewish people would have not suffered they way they had for thousands of years.

I am Greek, I am very old and I am an atheist. Iíve studied the roots of religion for the last twenty years and I have a great respect for the Torah while I have none for the pseudo-Jewish Greek gospels of Christianity.

We have to distinguish between ancient Greek spirit, mindset, mentality or ideology, whatever we call it, and the modern one because the ancient one no longer exists but we need not do the same for the Jewish spirit because it was kept alive (to the expense of the Jewish people, but that is irrelevant).
What I mean to say is that ancient Greek ideology and Jewish ideology were mortal enemies. The ancient Jewish state was theocratic Ėthe power was in the hands of the priests- while in the ancient Greek state there was no priesthood at all. The power-loving priests had been killed to the very last!

Well! Having left Judaism you cannot fall for the silly teachings of Christianity. Go ahead and enjoy church-going and the singing and companionship but do not worry for not being able to believe in the gospels. They were not written for people like you.

I wish you the best!
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Old 12-13-2012, 11:30 AM
 
Location: North by Northwest
7,442 posts, read 9,899,223 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dtango View Post
You are a good quality human being.
That is what you are and you can never be a believer. If more Jews were thinking the way you do the Jewish people would have not suffered they way they had for thousands of years.
Modern Jews are extremely quick to assimilate as a group (ultra-Orthodox types aside). Most European Jews thought of themselves as French, Germans, Poles, etc. first and Jews second, many of them having abandoned the theological side of Judaism entirely. That didn't save us from slaughter during the Holocaust, and it doesn't save us from the not-so-undercurrent of anti-Semitism that has remained to this day. Jews are great at sticking together on ethnic and cultural terms, but are really the absolute worst at maintaining orthodoxy. Fun fact: more American Jews describe themselves as atheists/agnostics than any other religious family, including self-professed "seculars."

I'm a proud Jewish atheist and have had a perfectly easy time balancing my origins with my spiritual disbelief. Jews that came from a strict, fundamentalist background like the OP certainly exist, but they are a small minority. Your ascribing of the ancient Judean theocracy to modern Judaism is hilarious at least. I'd bet good money that the modern, worldwide Greek diaspora s significantly less educated, forward-thinking, and secular-practicing than the Jewish diaspora.

Try again.

(I'm [perhaps generously] assuming you're not making more nefarious implications with regard to the Jewish people as "the Jews," but "anti-Semite" isn't a label I throw around lightly, so I'll give you the benefit of the doubt until you prove otherwise.)

To answer the OP's question, no, you don't seem like an atheist, but if you find comfort in Christianity and don't subsequently feel compelled to do things like blow up abortion clinics or protest at military funerals, it makes no difference to me.

Last edited by ElijahAstin; 12-13-2012 at 11:40 AM..
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