Keeping Score (Judgment & Measure)

***Excerpts taken from Chapter 5 of Rabbi Brad Hirshfield’s book ‘You Don’t Have To Be Wrong For Me To Be Right‘.

“Maybe that’s why God has so many different names in the Hebrew Bible: Adonai, Elohim, Shaddai, and on and on, to show that the label never fully captures the essence…It’s the same God, but that’s the point. How could any God so big be understood with only one name?” (Hirschfield, pg 108) 

“It is so easy to forget that the system that is right for you, even on that you believe God wants for you, may not be right for everyone. After all, how could the will of an infinite God ever be made so small as to fit into one finite system? Ironically, when it comes to our spiritual lives, we should be making the most room for one another, but it seems that instead we make the least” (Hirschfield, pg 112) 

“When the existence of the members becomes more important than their experience of membership, something is wrong” (Hirschfield, pg 113) 

“They must appreciate that their ideological commitments, no matter how defining or important they may be, do not override the love and respect that they share; they are more important to each other than the ideas that divide them. When you make that leap, virtually anything is possible” (Hirschfield, pg 116) 

“We tell people that if they don’t meet our measure it’s their problem, and sometimes that may be true; but it’s a good idea for people doing the measuring to take a hard look at their rulers first. It always seems that their markers of success look suspiciously like themselves – and then we’re back to making God look like us, rather than seeing how we all look like God” (Hirschfield, pg 117) 

“When people start imagining that how other people interpret religious practices are life-and-death issues, they are not so far from the people who flew planes into the buildings.” (Hirschfield, pg 120) 

“In fact, if your limits don’t have limits, you’re not a limit-setter at all. If your limits don’t have limits, you as are out of control as the people you accuse of being without discipline” (Hirschfield, pg 128 )

Keeping score is important. Measuring ourselves and taking stock of our lives is important; where we’re going and where we want to be are really important questions to ask, But please remember that the best score we keep is our own” (Hirschfield, pg 129)

Advertisements

11 thoughts on “Keeping Score (Judgment & Measure)

  1. Wow! Sounds like a great book. I might end up “stealing” some of the quotes for a future blog. You’re so on … as I sat in a baptism service this weekend, thinking, “Wow. How much of what I hear is even in the gospel? And how much is just rhetoric, handed down through church indoctrination…” Thanks for the post!

  2. “as I sat in a baptism service this weekend, thinking, “Wow. How much of what I hear is even in the gospel? And how much is just rhetoric, handed down through church indoctrination” (LGF)

    I was in church this weekend also – and it was your typical service – music (worship)/offering/greeting one another/more music/kids sent to Sunday school/preaching/altar call + music. I thought – I leave for like 7 years and nothing has changed – wow…is the product of fear or perfection that they do not change?

    I also found the lack of community distasteful – it was like we all gathered to ‘stare forward’, ‘sing some songs’, and ‘listen to someone speak’…then when it was over – we all left. There is nothing community building about having a bunch of seperate people sitting in seats worshipping God – but having nothing to do with one another.

    I also found that where I am in life is a lot different than most people in those seats – a lot different. Church is not about me, this is true, but if church is not about community either – then what is it doing? I don’t have people over to my house so they can stare forwards, sing, and eventually ignore one another…are they telling me God is like this in His house? Shame on them and this sham of a service.

    I thought I could go back and just enjoy it – and to some point I can and will do that – but there are aspects of it that just throw me for such a loop I can’t tell how they even measure their faith in defineable terms.

  3. “I was in church this weekend also – and it was your typical service – music (worship)/offering/greeting one another/more music/kids sent to Sunday school/preaching/altar call + music.”

    “I also found the lack of community distasteful – it was like we all gathered to ’stare forward’, ’sing some songs’, and ‘listen to someone speak’…then when it was over – we all left. There is nothing community building about having a bunch of seperate people sitting in seats worshipping God – but having nothing to do with one another. “(SVS)

    Sounds painfully familiar to something I used to lead. But I am with you on this. I used to think it was really important to have the regular Sunday morning service (show is more like it). But since I have been removed from it for 8 months now, I think I’m seeing things more clearly.

  4. awesome. great stuff here.

    “When people start imagining that how other people interpret religious practices are life-and-death issues, they are not so far from the people who flew planes into the buildings.” (Hirschfield, pg 120)

    the war on terror is pretty much our fundamentalists against theirs. as Matthew Fox stated, “Fundamentalism in all its varieties–Christian (Protestant or Catholic), Islamic, Jewish–all appears to be based on fear: fear of the universe, fear of science, fear of the loss of self, fear of nothingness, and Aquinas observes that ‘all fear deprives us from love.'”

    “In fact, if your limits don’t have limits, you’re not a limit-setter at all. If your limits don’t have limits, you as are out of control as the people you accuse of being without discipline” (Hirschfield, pg 128 )

    I was talking to a friend about limits. i truly believe that we are limited yet limitless. once we find what our constraints are, we have a platform to jump from. for me that’s where true art happens, not with the blank canvas, but in what you don’t have. as i sit down to paint, i don’t have the ability of Da Vinci or Van Gogh, nor do i have all the brushes or colors, and once i see those, i’m set free. my limitations are the key to my creativity. i’ll try to put it into a proverb, “if someone tells you that they doesn’t have limits, they has revealed their own. If someone says they are bound by circumstance, they have not yet reached theirs.”

  5. “I shudder at the memories your comment invokes.” (Yael)

    I have went 2 weeks straight and sat alone both times – uh yeah – I am not having the ‘time of my life’ exactly either.

    “But since I have been removed from it for 8 months now, I think I’m seeing things more clearly.” (Just1)

    This is becoming a more common experience as I read through many blogs and peoples experiences concerning leaving church and finding guidance – they start finding they were blind all along in some ways.

    “i truly believe that we are limited yet limitless. once we find what our constraints are, we have a platform to jump from” (Luke)

    I like the idea – limits help us build a house and without them – a house is not built. The house in turn provides heat, shelter, storage, and happiness. But without a well drawn out plan (limits) – then none of it exists.

  6. Saw this book at Half Priced Books when I was looking around there today. Picked it up along with another Heschel book, “Man is Not Alone”, a book on Israel, a book on post-Shoah thought, and another about a synagogue in the Bronx. $26 total. Gotta love holiday sales at a discount bookstore!

    Did a quick read of the chapter. Along with the statements you pointed out, I liked this one, “When details help us flesh out our values, when they are garments worn by our ideals, they are crucial. But when they become a goal in and of themselves, they twist those ideals into idols.” p. 120

    This is something I think so often misunderstood in your world. People see the details as bad, and perhaps for them they are bad since they might have the tendency to make the details into a goal, but for me the details are good. They allow me to experience the holy in a way I would not otherwise. I think this is again a place where we project ourselves onto others. Some people assume my rituals are dead and I assume that if they actually followed these rituals they would see they are not dead. The reality is my rituals are alive and meaningful for me and mine but no doubt if my critics took on these same rituals they would be indeed be dead for them.

    Interesting that this chapter fits in with the conversation I was having with another Jew this morning after minyan about my problems with people who claim God saved them from some horrific event, such as a Jew who claimed God saved him from the bridge collapse last fall. My thought was how nice that God chose to save you over the Muslim woman and her 2 year old daughter. I have real issues with such a view of God. God ignored the terror of a young mother and little girl to save a middle-aged man? I’d rather believe in the luck of the draw over a God who plays favorites, letting some die while saving some others. I can understand thanking God for being alive, but that’s as far as I’m willing to go. And for that I can thank God every day since we don’t know all the near misses in our lives anyway. I’m right with Rabbi Hirschfield on this one.

  7. Yael

    When details help us flesh out our values, when they are garments worn by our ideals, they are crucial. But when they become a goal in and of themselves, they twist those ideals into idols.” p. 120

    This is what I meant when I was mentioning that you could potentially be Idol worshipping even with the Torah.

    Great quote.

    John T.

  8. Not me. And that is one of the things Rabbi Hirschfield talks about, the judging someone else’s religious acts without knowing anything about them or their acts. If you want to state it in terms of you, that for you treating the Torah as I treat it, speaking of the Torah as I speak of it, would seem like idolatry, or could be idolatry, that is fine. But, you’ve crossed the bounds when you say that this is idolatry for me. How could you know such a thing since it relates to my view of God and Torah? No one can know that but me. It’s best to leave me to me and you to you.

  9. Yael

    I wasnt saying you were, I was saying that the possibility is there. For all I know you read the Koran 😉

  10. I would say that all depends on how we view idolatry – my personal view is – a literal built ‘idol’ of a god or person – meant to take the place of God. The bible could be seen that way – if it is worshipped in a way to take the place of God. I have never seen a community like that – since most religious communities get their views of God from their respective books. They usually never worship the actual books (revere – yes).

    I think the current view of idolatry has changed since we live in a very media and image producing society – so the definition gets skewed. Still, idol means something built for actual worship (something we live our life for/replacing God’s teachings) – and most things in our society don’t fall into this realm. I think we have a ‘too wide open definition’ concering idolatry, that’s my personal opinion.

    For example, I have always loved music – and always will…I study it to some degree also. Now when I first became a Christian I was convinced (by others) this was an idol and had to be destroyed – so I destroyed it (by ‘it’ I mean all my tapes, cd’s, and records). I have come to the obvious realization music is not an idol – and never has been. I do not pray to it, I do not take it’s teachings as all authoritative, I do not call music a ‘god’, etc. Music was just something I loved to listen to, sing to, and now play (and write). Music actually never took the ‘the place of God’ in my life – even when I was without God – since it was not an ‘object of worship’ (but only of adoration and respect).

    Now that’s a fine line to draw but it does make a big difference. It’s evaluating the current definition based on how ‘idol’ was once used – from a religious perspective. Idol – is an image – namely an ‘image of god’ (which would not be God because God is not imaged). Then in turn this image would be subject to worship – or varying acts of communal worship (ex: sacrifices or praise). This never happens with any religious books as far as I have ever seen in my 33 years (and Christians get very close to it – but not quite).

    Now people can become ‘images of God’ – a false, personal image of the great God. Now music was not an idol for me – but a musician could very well become one. Beatlemania was a weird example of this – people were so enamoured with various members and the music – some people actually worshipped the Beatles (MD Chapman being a gross example of this enamour turning into ouright obsession – then mixing his religious faith with that of the faith he had in Lennon – something broke inside him when Lennon commented on ‘being bigger than Jesus’). People can take the place of God in our lives, I can admit that much.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s