elettaria: (Default)
I have just been reading this article with interest. It discusses clashes between different religions, and between religion and secularism, mainly on the subject of physical objects. For those who don't know my background, I was raised Jewish and practised for some years until realising a few years ago that I am an atheist, at which point I stopped attending synagogue as I don't like religious hypocrisy. I believe in freedom of expression including freedom to practise a religion, but I also believe that religions shouldn't get a Get Out Of Jail Free card when it comes to human rights, and these two beliefs can conflict with each other until the cows come home. My Jewish background will always be with me and it does colour my attitudes. For example, like other Jews I really don't like proselytisation. Some people might see it as leading lost souls to God. I see all its history of destroying cultures, forcing people into hiding, fuelling violence, encouraging bigotry.

For the examples given in that article, I agree with some and disagree with others. Read more... )

Here's a fun one

Wednesday, 17 June 2009 01:03 am
elettaria: (Default)
Light sensors cause religious row

Quite apart from the fact that there's a perfectly good case to make against the idea that Jews should not turn electrical lights on or off during the Sabbath, am I right in thinking that something automated might come under different rules, that there are laws about not interfering with nearby non-Jews if they're doing something for their own benefit (involving the weird notion of the Shabbes goy), and the possibility of overriding ecological concerns? How does this case compare with automated street lighting? What systems for stairwell lighting do they use in Israel?
elettaria: (Waterlily quilt - entire)
Should hospital chaplains be phased out?

I usually have fairly mixed feelings about such matters. I was raised in what I consider, overall, to be a pretty good religion (in that it takes a sensible attitude to life and doesn't propagate bigotry), Reform/Liberal Judaism. I eventually left a few years ago upon realising that I was an atheist. But Jewishness is still part of my identity, and there are still ways in which I think, or am able to think, like a person of faith. I recognise that whether or not God exists is not the only issue, even though it proved to be a key one for me, and that religions are human institutions, capable of both good and evil. Denying human rights to people because they're gay or female is wrong (I'd rather not use "evil", though I'm still working with that idea of opposed concepts); providing comfort to the ill and bereaved is undoubtedly a good thing, an act of humanity, a mitzvah.

Unfortunately, the NHS is terribly strapped for cash. Read more... )
elettaria: (Waterlily quilt - entire)
Should hospital chaplains be phased out?

I usually have fairly mixed feelings about such matters. I was raised in what I consider, overall, to be a pretty good religion (in that it takes a sensible attitude to life and doesn't propagate bigotry), Reform/Liberal Judaism. I eventually left a few years ago upon realising that I was an atheist. But Jewishness is still part of my identity, and there are still ways in which I think, or am able to think, like a person of faith. I recognise that whether or not God exists is not the only issue, even though it proved to be a key one for me, and that religions are human institutions, capable of both good and evil. Denying human rights to people because they're gay or female is wrong (I'd rather not use "evil", though I'm still working with that idea of opposed concepts); providing comfort to the ill and bereaved is undoubtedly a good thing, an act of humanity, a mitzvah.

Unfortunately, the NHS is terribly strapped for cash. Read more... )
elettaria: (Rock badger)
[livejournal.com profile] angevin2 has put up a voice post in which she sings a ballad about Daphne and Apollo, sounding very lovely I may add. It has inspired me to come up with a Plan To Save The Planet.

For those whose mythology is patchy, the god Apollo took a fancy to Daphne but she wasn't interested. He pursued her, she ran away, and since he was catching up and she was getting desperate, she called to the virgin goddess Artemis for help. Artemis obligingly turned her into a bay laurel tree.

If we changed it around and made it the would-be-rapist who turned into the tree, to make it fairer, and this happened every time someone tried to commit a rape, think how great it would be. There would be fewer humans, nicer humans, and lots more trees, thus solving in one stroke the problems of overpopulation and deforestation.

In other news, [livejournal.com profile] mirrorshard has pointed me to the latest silliness from the evangelical movement, with further eloquence here and here. I'll bet you that somewhere there is a kinky club where people are wearing those t-shirts in not quite the spirit they were meant to be worn. EX-HYPOCRITE is deliciously ironic all on its own, anyway, and EX-FORNICATOR has such a fine ring to it. Which reminds me that "fornicator" comes from the Latin for "brothel", which in turns comes from the Latin "fornix", meaning "arch", as in prostitutes lurking in doorways. (Study Juvenal at A-level and you get to learn all about where the prostitutes of different nationalities hung out in ancient Rome.) If language had developed a bit differently, "fornicator" could mean "builder" today.
elettaria: (Rock badger)
[livejournal.com profile] angevin2 has put up a voice post in which she sings a ballad about Daphne and Apollo, sounding very lovely I may add. It has inspired me to come up with a Plan To Save The Planet.

For those whose mythology is patchy, the god Apollo took a fancy to Daphne but she wasn't interested. He pursued her, she ran away, and since he was catching up and she was getting desperate, she called to the virgin goddess Artemis for help. Artemis obligingly turned her into a bay laurel tree.

If we changed it around and made it the would-be-rapist who turned into the tree, to make it fairer, and this happened every time someone tried to commit a rape, think how great it would be. There would be fewer humans, nicer humans, and lots more trees, thus solving in one stroke the problems of overpopulation and deforestation.

In other news, [livejournal.com profile] mirrorshard has pointed me to the latest silliness from the evangelical movement, with further eloquence here and here. I'll bet you that somewhere there is a kinky club where people are wearing those t-shirts in not quite the spirit they were meant to be worn. EX-HYPOCRITE is deliciously ironic all on its own, anyway, and EX-FORNICATOR has such a fine ring to it. Which reminds me that "fornicator" comes from the Latin for "brothel", which in turns comes from the Latin "fornix", meaning "arch", as in prostitutes lurking in doorways. (Study Juvenal at A-level and you get to learn all about where the prostitutes of different nationalities hung out in ancient Rome.) If language had developed a bit differently, "fornicator" could mean "builder" today.

Organ donation

Saturday, 2 June 2007 09:41 pm
elettaria: (Default)
There's quite a fuss going on right now over a Dutch TV show that has proved to be a hoax, the Big Donor Show in which an actress posed as a terminally ill woman interviewing three candidates to see which one most deserves to get one of her kidneys. I'm not intending to discuss that here, though you can read a thoughtful discussion of it here. I'll just say that I find the idea extremely unpleasant and feel that there are better ways of raising the profile of organ donation. I'd rather talk about organ donation itself.

Like many people, I'd heard of it but not really thought about it much. [livejournal.com profile] ladyvivien changed that. Her mother has been the recipient of a donated kidney and she is extremely passionate about organ donation issues. There was a proposal at the time that organ donation should be made an opt-out system in the UK, so that unless people deliberately opted out they would be on the organ donation register. In case anyone reading this is not aware, there is a terrible shortage of organ donors. [livejournal.com profile] ladyvivien was in favour of the bill, which didn't pass. I wasn't, because while I do feel that something dramatic needs to be done to create a large enough pool of organ donors, I don't feel that your body belongs to the state and I believe that it should be a choice whether or not to be a donor. The system I envisage as ideal would present people with the opportunity to sign up as organ donors, for example asking anyone who registered with a doctor's surgery or got a driving licence (which would cover the vast majority of the population between them), and by this I mean giving them a form that made them tick a yes or no box, not just having leaflets sitting around the surgery. This would, I hope, increase the pool to a large enough size without forcing anyone, since many people, most I think, would in fact agree if they were asked, they're just not asked. And since few people really want to think about the possibility of their own death, let alone in gory detail (who wants to think about having their eyes removed?), people aren't that likely to go out of their way to sign up, they'll just avoid the topic while being vaguely in favour of it.

I signed up a while later, I think it didn't happen until something else prodded me and I'd spent a couple of years meaning to get around to it when there were the appropriate forms available. I signed up online in the end, which may be done at this link. I later proceeded to tell my parents about this in a way which I wouldn't suggest following. It was when I was reading up on human sacrifice for an essay on Titus Andronicus, in which a defeated enemy is sacrificed at the beginning of the play, and started wondering whether the Romans ever practised human sacrifice. My stepfather's a history nut, so I rang my parents to ask, and all this reading about removal of body parts reminded me that I needed to tell them I was on the organ donation register. My mother answered the phone, and the conversation went something like this:

Me: Hi, darling, how are you? Is C-- there? By the way, I'm signed up as an organ donor.
My mother [not taken it in yet]: Er, yes, here he is.
[Fascinating conversation in which C-- and I conclude that no, the Romans did not practise human sacrifice, and thus Titus' sacrifice of Alarbus was way out of line.]
C--: Lovely talking to you, I'll give you back to your mother now.
Mother: What the hell do you mean you're signed up as an organ donor?

This might not have been the best way to broach the subject. Thankfully we got it straightened out in the end, and while my mother is one of the people who really doesn't want to think about the whole topic, she respects my decision.

So anyway, however the topic is brought to light, I'd urge anyone who hasn't signed up as a donor already to think about it deeply, and if you decide that you wish to sign up, get around to it now - and then tell your next of kin in a suitable manner.

Organ donation

Saturday, 2 June 2007 09:41 pm
elettaria: (Default)
There's quite a fuss going on right now over a Dutch TV show that has proved to be a hoax, the Big Donor Show in which an actress posed as a terminally ill woman interviewing three candidates to see which one most deserves to get one of her kidneys. I'm not intending to discuss that here, though you can read a thoughtful discussion of it here. I'll just say that I find the idea extremely unpleasant and feel that there are better ways of raising the profile of organ donation. I'd rather talk about organ donation itself.

Like many people, I'd heard of it but not really thought about it much. [livejournal.com profile] ladyvivien changed that. Her mother has been the recipient of a donated kidney and she is extremely passionate about organ donation issues. There was a proposal at the time that organ donation should be made an opt-out system in the UK, so that unless people deliberately opted out they would be on the organ donation register. In case anyone reading this is not aware, there is a terrible shortage of organ donors. [livejournal.com profile] ladyvivien was in favour of the bill, which didn't pass. I wasn't, because while I do feel that something dramatic needs to be done to create a large enough pool of organ donors, I don't feel that your body belongs to the state and I believe that it should be a choice whether or not to be a donor. The system I envisage as ideal would present people with the opportunity to sign up as organ donors, for example asking anyone who registered with a doctor's surgery or got a driving licence (which would cover the vast majority of the population between them), and by this I mean giving them a form that made them tick a yes or no box, not just having leaflets sitting around the surgery. This would, I hope, increase the pool to a large enough size without forcing anyone, since many people, most I think, would in fact agree if they were asked, they're just not asked. And since few people really want to think about the possibility of their own death, let alone in gory detail (who wants to think about having their eyes removed?), people aren't that likely to go out of their way to sign up, they'll just avoid the topic while being vaguely in favour of it.

I signed up a while later, I think it didn't happen until something else prodded me and I'd spent a couple of years meaning to get around to it when there were the appropriate forms available. I signed up online in the end, which may be done at this link. I later proceeded to tell my parents about this in a way which I wouldn't suggest following. It was when I was reading up on human sacrifice for an essay on Titus Andronicus, in which a defeated enemy is sacrificed at the beginning of the play, and started wondering whether the Romans ever practised human sacrifice. My stepfather's a history nut, so I rang my parents to ask, and all this reading about removal of body parts reminded me that I needed to tell them I was on the organ donation register. My mother answered the phone, and the conversation went something like this:

Me: Hi, darling, how are you? Is C-- there? By the way, I'm signed up as an organ donor.
My mother [not taken it in yet]: Er, yes, here he is.
[Fascinating conversation in which C-- and I conclude that no, the Romans did not practise human sacrifice, and thus Titus' sacrifice of Alarbus was way out of line.]
C--: Lovely talking to you, I'll give you back to your mother now.
Mother: What the hell do you mean you're signed up as an organ donor?

This might not have been the best way to broach the subject. Thankfully we got it straightened out in the end, and while my mother is one of the people who really doesn't want to think about the whole topic, she respects my decision.

So anyway, however the topic is brought to light, I'd urge anyone who hasn't signed up as a donor already to think about it deeply, and if you decide that you wish to sign up, get around to it now - and then tell your next of kin in a suitable manner.

Quotations of the day

Wednesday, 4 April 2007 01:15 am
elettaria: (Rock badger)
"You will not be discriminated against as a result of making a complaint. If you feel you have been, make a further complaint."

- How your complaint is being dealt with, leaflet by the City of Edinburgh Council which is full of so many allusions to investigations, secrecy and hints that you should get a lawyer, that I'm wondering whether it's the FBI I'm actually dealing with here.


"Sitting in a church doesn't make you a Christian any more than sitting in a carpark makes you a car."

- Paul from Manchester, commenting on a BBC article about nominal Christians.


"A collection of adult fairy tales or an excuse to write explicit pornography?

"If you are looking for a book to satisfy lustful passions, this is the book for you with no less than four sections that would be better suited to a top shelf pornography magazine. If you are looking to explore spirituality, may I recommend the bible, a book that would bear much more fruit on the subject of spirituality and is suitable to be read by all ages!"

- Amazon reviewer on Sara Maitland's book of short stories, On Becoming a Fairy Godmother. I should mention that Maitland is not exactly writing porn, that she writes sex rather well on the rare occasions that she writes it, and that incidentally she's published several theological works.

And one I've been admiring for years )

Quotations of the day

Wednesday, 4 April 2007 01:15 am
elettaria: (Rock badger)
"You will not be discriminated against as a result of making a complaint. If you feel you have been, make a further complaint."

- How your complaint is being dealt with, leaflet by the City of Edinburgh Council which is full of so many allusions to investigations, secrecy and hints that you should get a lawyer, that I'm wondering whether it's the FBI I'm actually dealing with here.


"Sitting in a church doesn't make you a Christian any more than sitting in a carpark makes you a car."

- Paul from Manchester, commenting on a BBC article about nominal Christians.


"A collection of adult fairy tales or an excuse to write explicit pornography?

"If you are looking for a book to satisfy lustful passions, this is the book for you with no less than four sections that would be better suited to a top shelf pornography magazine. If you are looking to explore spirituality, may I recommend the bible, a book that would bear much more fruit on the subject of spirituality and is suitable to be read by all ages!"

- Amazon reviewer on Sara Maitland's book of short stories, On Becoming a Fairy Godmother. I should mention that Maitland is not exactly writing porn, that she writes sex rather well on the rare occasions that she writes it, and that incidentally she's published several theological works.

And one I've been admiring for years )

Hilarious link

Thursday, 12 October 2006 12:09 am
elettaria: (Default)
The Mormon mission in Edinburgh.

The Words 'fanny,' 'bugger,' 'bloody,' and 'suspenders' (call them braces'), should never be used when speaking to a Scot. Foreign visitors should note that a 'fag' is a cigarette, an 'ass' is a donkey, and a 'rubber' is an eraser.

This is the city I live in?

Hilarious link

Thursday, 12 October 2006 12:09 am
elettaria: (Default)
The Mormon mission in Edinburgh.

The Words 'fanny,' 'bugger,' 'bloody,' and 'suspenders' (call them braces'), should never be used when speaking to a Scot. Foreign visitors should note that a 'fag' is a cigarette, an 'ass' is a donkey, and a 'rubber' is an eraser.

This is the city I live in?
elettaria: (Red rose)
[livejournal.com profile] ritual_art is now in existence. Anyone who's interested in discussing arts and crafts related to religious and spiritual purposes, do come along. A co-moderator or two would be very welcome.
elettaria: (Red rose)
[livejournal.com profile] ritual_art is now in existence. Anyone who's interested in discussing arts and crafts related to religious and spiritual purposes, do come along. A co-moderator or two would be very welcome.
elettaria: (Rock badger)
Why God Never Received Tenure at Any University

1. He only had one major publication.
2. It was in Hebrew.
3. It had no references.
4. It wasn't published in a refereed journal.
5. Some even doubt He wrote it Himself.
6. It may be true that He created the world, but what has He done since then?
7. His cooperative efforts have been quite limited.
8. The scientific community has had a hard time replicating His results.
9. He never applied to the Ethics Board for permission to use human subjects.
10. When one experiment went awry, He tried to cover it up by drowning the subjects.
11. When subjects didn't behave as predicted, He deleted them from the sample.
12. He rarely came to class, just told students to read the book.
13. Some say He had His son teach the class.
14. He expelled His first two students for learning.
15. Although there were only ten requirements, most students failed His tests.
16. His office hours were infrequent and usually held on a mountain top.

BAD JOKE DISCLAIMER: We recognize that religious humor can be risky. It is our hope that by laughing at ourselves (and others) we can make this subject more approachable. If you find any of these objectionable, we apologise. Many were posted on Beliefnet, some were passed along via email and others spotted on other websites. As with most jokes, the original authors are unknown.

Nabbed from my synagogue newsletter, disclaimer and all, and originally found by my friend R.
elettaria: (Rock badger)
Why God Never Received Tenure at Any University

1. He only had one major publication.
2. It was in Hebrew.
3. It had no references.
4. It wasn't published in a refereed journal.
5. Some even doubt He wrote it Himself.
6. It may be true that He created the world, but what has He done since then?
7. His cooperative efforts have been quite limited.
8. The scientific community has had a hard time replicating His results.
9. He never applied to the Ethics Board for permission to use human subjects.
10. When one experiment went awry, He tried to cover it up by drowning the subjects.
11. When subjects didn't behave as predicted, He deleted them from the sample.
12. He rarely came to class, just told students to read the book.
13. Some say He had His son teach the class.
14. He expelled His first two students for learning.
15. Although there were only ten requirements, most students failed His tests.
16. His office hours were infrequent and usually held on a mountain top.

BAD JOKE DISCLAIMER: We recognize that religious humor can be risky. It is our hope that by laughing at ourselves (and others) we can make this subject more approachable. If you find any of these objectionable, we apologise. Many were posted on Beliefnet, some were passed along via email and others spotted on other websites. As with most jokes, the original authors are unknown.

Nabbed from my synagogue newsletter, disclaimer and all, and originally found by my friend R.
elettaria: (Rock badger)
I'm currently attempting to read through the Bible, something I've been meaning to do for years. I do a half-hour stint every morning while perched in front of my lightbox, using my lovely New Oxford Annotated Bible which people here recommended. (For certain values of "every".) At the moment I'm half-way through Deuteronomy, and something has just struck me.

There's a passage in Deuteronomy 22 when penalties for rape and illicit sex are imposed. If a man marries a woman and goes off her when he sleeps with her, all is dependent on whether or not there's a stain on the sheet to prove her virginity (a myth for which there is no medical evidence, as the NOAB tartly points out). If there is, he gets a fine and a bad reputation, but has to stay married to her; if there isn't, she gets stoned. If a couple are caught in adultery, both get stoned. If a man rapes an engaged woman in the town, they both get stoned (she because she didn't scream for help, "and the man because he violated another man's wife. You must purge the evil from among you"); if it's in the country (i.e. no one could hear her scream) then only he dies. If a man rapes an unengaged woman, he must marry her and pay her father a fine. Many of these end with "you must purge the evil from among you", or however it's translated (NIV was the best I could find online at my usual site). From Deuteronomy 20, if a man fancies a captive woman, he must give her a month to mourn her parents then marry her, he can't enslave her.

Read more... )
elettaria: (Rock badger)
I'm currently attempting to read through the Bible, something I've been meaning to do for years. I do a half-hour stint every morning while perched in front of my lightbox, using my lovely New Oxford Annotated Bible which people here recommended. (For certain values of "every".) At the moment I'm half-way through Deuteronomy, and something has just struck me.

There's a passage in Deuteronomy 22 when penalties for rape and illicit sex are imposed. If a man marries a woman and goes off her when he sleeps with her, all is dependent on whether or not there's a stain on the sheet to prove her virginity (a myth for which there is no medical evidence, as the NOAB tartly points out). If there is, he gets a fine and a bad reputation, but has to stay married to her; if there isn't, she gets stoned. If a couple are caught in adultery, both get stoned. If a man rapes an engaged woman in the town, they both get stoned (she because she didn't scream for help, "and the man because he violated another man's wife. You must purge the evil from among you"); if it's in the country (i.e. no one could hear her scream) then only he dies. If a man rapes an unengaged woman, he must marry her and pay her father a fine. Many of these end with "you must purge the evil from among you", or however it's translated (NIV was the best I could find online at my usual site). From Deuteronomy 20, if a man fancies a captive woman, he must give her a month to mourn her parents then marry her, he can't enslave her.

Read more... )

"Modesty" in religion

Thursday, 10 March 2005 07:07 pm
elettaria: (Default)
This is in response to this post in [livejournal.com profile] faith_feminists, which was commenting on an article about religious modesty written in what I call nouveau doormat mode. Because it's a highly controversial topic, I've decided to put the bulk of my response here.

I'm trying to think of how to say this without offending anyone, and I'm doing my best but it's not easy. Please don't take offence: I'm complaining about problems within an institution, in this case Orthodox Judaism, and this is not an attack on anyone. As agreed in the post mentioned above, women have the right to dress and behave in any way they want. What I object to is when certain modes of dress and behaviour are forced on them. This is my view based on what I have seen of UK Judaism.

I believe that sexuality is something wonderful and can also be connected with the spiritual, but for a religious service it should be left outside the door. This does not mean trying to stamp it out, but rather ignoring it, just as it is inappropriate to focus on financial matters in a religious service. When I go to synagogue, I dress in my usual style, except a little more smartly, and I wear a suit for more formal occasions. If it is a particularly solemn occasion, say the High Holydays, I dress more sombrely. For instance, on the Day of Atonement I dress in plain colours, trying to include some white as is traditional, and do not wear jewellery or make-up. Necklines and hemlines are neither here nor there.

Read more... )

"Modesty" in religion

Thursday, 10 March 2005 07:07 pm
elettaria: (Default)
This is in response to this post in [livejournal.com profile] faith_feminists, which was commenting on an article about religious modesty written in what I call nouveau doormat mode. Because it's a highly controversial topic, I've decided to put the bulk of my response here.

I'm trying to think of how to say this without offending anyone, and I'm doing my best but it's not easy. Please don't take offence: I'm complaining about problems within an institution, in this case Orthodox Judaism, and this is not an attack on anyone. As agreed in the post mentioned above, women have the right to dress and behave in any way they want. What I object to is when certain modes of dress and behaviour are forced on them. This is my view based on what I have seen of UK Judaism.

I believe that sexuality is something wonderful and can also be connected with the spiritual, but for a religious service it should be left outside the door. This does not mean trying to stamp it out, but rather ignoring it, just as it is inappropriate to focus on financial matters in a religious service. When I go to synagogue, I dress in my usual style, except a little more smartly, and I wear a suit for more formal occasions. If it is a particularly solemn occasion, say the High Holydays, I dress more sombrely. For instance, on the Day of Atonement I dress in plain colours, trying to include some white as is traditional, and do not wear jewellery or make-up. Necklines and hemlines are neither here nor there.

Read more... )

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