Thursday, November 10, 2005

Rabbi Marc Gellman has something to say.
Religious leaders today must remember that we are embodied souls, and those bodies are now being seduced by an unprecedented avalanche of sex carried by TV, movies, video games, music, magazines and beer ads. The avalanche’s roar carries a single message: love and sex do not have to be connected in any way at all.

Religion has become the national joke. The sneering is directed toward Christianity, but that's disingenuous: Science is mocking God in all his forms, whether He sacrificed His Son or not. And religious leaders answer by conceding ground and restricting their sermons to ethereal concerns beyond the grasp of science. How obliging. "Thank you, sir. May I have another?"

The principal merit of religion is the ambition to become a better person. If you restrict religious discussion to the nature of Heaven, if you divorce it from tangible concerns, then you rob it of any relevance to people's lives. If you rely on superstition to fill the seats, you're going to have to close the doors.

So kudos to Rabbi Gellman for rolling up his sleeves. There's no dignity in letting the Torah gather dust on a shelf while society slouches toward Gomorrah. Those lessons have tremendous wisdom and insight to offer our day-to-day lives; and refusing to confront them because we're afraid of being challenged by science is an abdication of responsibility. Our best minds have invested centuries of thought into exploring those avenues of the human spirit; to insist they've revealed nothing of value simply because they were founded in religion is ludicrous -- and it's exactly the sort of prejudice abhorred by true scientists.

Gellman quotes the Talmud:
Be very careful if you make a woman cry, because God counts her tears. The woman came out of a man’s rib: Not from his feet to be walked on. Not from his head to be superior, but from the side to be equal. Under the arm to be protected, and next to the heart to be loved.
Forget about God. If a passage like that can inspire you to become a better man and a loving husband, who cares about the rest of it? That's the value of religion -- and woe betide us if we expel that in the name of science.


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