Tuesday, April 2, 2013

My Speech for the B'nai Mitzvah...







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Well, hello! Shabbat Shalom, everyone! It's nice to see so many of you present for our very special event! We are honored to have you here to celebrate such an important day in our lives. My name is Jordan Adorno, and I am very proud to be among my class of eight others who have all worked very hard over the course of these last fifteen months to make this Shabbat so meaningful. It has not always been easy, but it has always proved to be an ever-remarkable, unforgettable experience in the spectrum of our religious lives. With the help of the best teacher in the world, Cantor Robuck of course, we've successfully managed to become impressive in the Hebrew-based Jewish traditions which you have and will continue to see us partake in throughout this very special Shabbat.

Fifteen months ago, in January of 2012, there were twenty-two people in the class at start. Some of us, including myself, had just finished our conversions following a five-month "Discover Judaism" course, and were eager to all together jump into this new exciting pursuit. Proud and thrilled to be newly Jewish, we could not wait to delve into this new
"B'nai Mitzvah" project. Among others present were individuals who'd too converted to Judaism, but at different points prior to us. Still, then there were some members of the class that were older women whom in their time had not the privilege to have a bat mitzvah at age thirteen, which today we are pleased to note can be taken for granted. A family of four even comprised part of the initial set as well.




But nonetheless here we are, a mere nine of us. As time went on and the demands of the learning process grew greater, fewer of us there were. Although I am unable to speak for the others, at this point of culmination my drive and motivation this entire time could not be any clearer: when Judaism so miraculously slipped into my life almost two years ago, it truly became the central thing that saved my life, what allowed me to continue my growth as a person. Until then Jewish people had just been people who I respected for a culture made up of prestige, unimposing religious practice, high IQs, and adorable little hats! Moreover, by this time I had already spent years passionately Atheist, even creating a website entitled “Atheists Concerned for America” (which ironically is more popular now when I've converted back to a theist), set on disproving God's existence and vilifying Christianity. Understandably, I was unhealed from the realization that the religious identity that had been engrained into me since birth was, from my perspective, a catalyst for things which I by principle detested the most: sexism, intolerance, close-mindedness, homophobia; it did not enable me to question all the impending matters around me, it did not allow me to accept myself for who I am.

If nothing else, the sole claim that the ever-acclaimed Virgin Mary was Queen of the Universe was absolutely unacceptable for me — I knew for certain that none other than the super goddess that is MADONNA was the true Queen of all things!!!


And thus, upon my serendipitous discovery that Judaism DID allow me to question things with an open mind, DID allow me to so strongly express my belief in social justice and equal rights, DID allow me to be who I was and whom I had no reason to have shame in....It was like I could breathe fresh air again, like the salt trapped in the wounds that emotionally broke my heart were finally beginning to heal. And alright, sure, the guarantee of brownies and cookies after services was pretty enticing too. Anyway, as I vehemently took upon the principles, scruples, and traditions of Judaism with utmost seriousness and devotion, nothing, absolutely NOTHING, could prevent me from progressing each day no matter how difficult the struggle was to fulfill the prospect of the B'nai Mitzvah. Regardless of how many hours I was working, how much stress was overruling my life, I zealously learned to read Hebrew, the trope, the prayers and songs, and even excelled to take upon extra responsibilities. For all that today I have nothing but utter pride and elation to perform what I have so adamantly attempted to perfect over the preceding fifteen months.



For you see, all in all when the means are justified and my personal expectations are met, the conclusion I straightforwardly arrive at is that Judaism has empowered me to become a better version of myself with each passing day; it has enabled me to be the VICTOR, not the VICTIM, of my every worldly circumstance.



The only drawback is that I'll be hearing 'Told you so!' from my family members and friends who told me I wouldn't stay Atheist for too long. Who would have thought that nineteen-year-old kid who'd replied, “I'd rather die!” would be standing up here right now!

Thank you, it has been an incredible honor to have this experience with eight of the loveliest people you could ever meet, and with the guidance of the extraordinaire that is Cantor Robuck! Thank you to each and every one of you who has believed in me and offered me unconditional support and knowledge to succeed. It means more than can ever be spoken! On that note, SHABBAT SHALOM, and have a wonderful night!!!

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Sunday, January 27, 2013

A little encouragement for Interfaith acceptance of Science in the Modern World......





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"Modern-day Problems with Fundamentalists of the Abrahamic Faiths: why Refusal to accept Science and other Worldly Advancements is Perilous to their Religions' Continuity"

 

By Jordan "BluntJoey" Adorno

  

"So, let us not be blind to our differences - but let us also direct attention to our common interests and to the means by which those differences can be resolved." - John F. Kennedy

 

         By entirely refusing to accept Science and its principles simply because it disagrees with one's own religious texts, Abrahamic believers today only open the door for MORE criticism and, arguably, devaluation of their entire cause. Plainly put, a religion that falls behind the progress of the modern world will increasingly find survival pronouncedly difficult. Many people will not be able to, in good faith anyway, identify with a religious ideology that, frankly, is totally refuted by modern-day knowledge and discovery. The running excuse for Biblical "Inerrancy" of Islamic, Christian and Jewish fundamentalists, which stately declares any and all scientific evidence appearing to validate Evolution actually an act of God merely testing our faith, has unsurprisingly become the growing source of jokes and ridicule in the public eye more as years pass. The longer a society becomes less and less receptive to the paradigm of surrendering unquestioning obedience to a higher, overruling authority for no clear reason except blind tradition (most especially in the case of religion and human spirituality), the more absurd such an outrageously crafted excuse is perceived by the masses. Therefore, rather than seeking to repudiate Science at all costs, leaders of the Judaic, Christian, and Islamic faiths should - in spite of their individual holy texts' seemingly disharmonious contentions with modern Science - pave way to incorporating Science and other substantial societal developments into their faith systems. Otherwise their already declining numbers will continue to decimate faster than ever, until ultimately the religions no longer carry a vital purpose in the lives of billions across the globe. 


https://im1.shutterfly.com/media/47a6dc03b3127cceeb3973c032d600000030O00IcNnLFy3cOQe3nws/cC/f%3D0/ls%3D00908791096820160223004029426.JPG/ps%3D50/r%3D0/rx%3D550/ry%3D400/    It's no secret that the amount of Atheists in this country has SKY-ROCKETED. In an ever-technologically advanced world in which knowledge can be sought and acquired easily by infinite means, society has grown less confident overall about the "inerrancy" of religions. Indeed, in the far more rational society of today, churches are left increasingly disappointed by their alarmingly decreasing attendance rates. Fundamentalist denominations like certain branches of Baptists, Pentecostals, or in particular Jehovah's Witnesses, tend to be named - notably with a VERY firm negative connotation at that - "extremists" by many. Even fellow Christians of other, larger denominations (including, notably, Catholicism, which has actually accepted Evolution for decades) will frown upon the incessantly stringent attachment such fundamentalists retain to grasping the Bible's "literal" meaning. (See "Evolution and Catholicism Compatible, Pope Says".) In a (thankfully) growingly egalitarian society, the religious degradation, subordination of women, has become far less attractive (as such fundamentalists will describe the role of women as men's "helpers", like Eve was to Adam in "the beginning"). People want to embrace and lavish in the secular enjoyments of the day, and apparently, scrupulous religious life definitely just does not permit that, or at very least considerably restricts it. And with easily-accessible education casting a glare of general doubt on religion in America, Christianity most especially (itself the main religion in the states, obviously), the phenomenal fear of Hell and eternal damnation just doesn't have the effect it used to. In end, although 89 % of Americans called themselves Christian in 1990, as of a CNN study as early as 2009 only 75 % did, with 1/4 young adults openly admitting to 'having no faith' in a 2007 study conducted by the Washington Post ("America becoming less Christian, survey finds"; "In America, Nonbelievers Find Strength in Numbers"). Thus, it is clear that, be it one reason or another, religious practice, especially pertaining to Christianity, carries a very much depressed relevance to Americans in modern culture.

     The question is whether the leading religious movements of today will let that 'depressed relevance' become a despondent one, or whether they will smartly instead take serious steps to restructure their active religious practices to fit the current day.   

     Now, it is not to be unappreciated the power and presence that the Christian faith does have, so far perpetually too, over America. Even these fundamentalist groups which have been so critically emphasized as the faith's most damaging conflict receive plenty of media attention, their influence well-acknowledged. Churches are still packed on Christmas and Easter. But the numbers speak for themselves: As recently as even the 1980s, a self-declaration to Atheism would have been generally appalling to most, and yet today, in the year 2013, secularists/nonbelievers are abundant as ever, a rapidly growing demographic in this country; astoundingly, according to a well-corroborated national study conducted by the Pew Research Center, "...[O]ne-fifth of American adults have no religious affiliation" ("Losing Our Religion: The Growth Of The 'Nones'"). And their prime arguments against Christians, Jews, and Muslims all derive from what core, single-handedly universal, all-damning weakness?! The easy ability to attack so many of the doctrine-forming statements found in the Bible - ranging from science to history in its heavy amount of unsubstantiated inconsistencies pertained to highly important subject matters - that are transparent fallacies when one stubbornly insists on living by a strict, "literal" interpretation of its every line! It's the clear-as-day potential path Christianity has to self-destruction in American culture if said 'Literalists' do not cease to swamp mainstream culture with their rigid, progressively-less-relevant message. Noted Fundamentalist Christians, Jews, and Muslims alike are only running in purposeless, dizzying circles that are digging a bigger and bigger hole for themselves more with every day.


     Overall, persistence to maintain an overbearing belief in Biblical inerrancy no matter what is pretty much the worst thing that Christians can do in this day and age to their religion's future. See, more and more in the present age, all that is consequent from upholding such stubborn pious extremes - well, at least in the overwhelming majority of cases anyway - is the illumination of countless additional reasons to NOT take the faiths and their extraordinary theological postulations seriously. Vehement exclusionary boundaries are created thanks to this standing pretext, which isolates quite substantial demographic margins of the population: from people who stand by the conviction for equal rights (be that for women, gays, Atheists, non-Christians/Jews/Muslims etc.) to people who simply cannot subscribe to a philosophy that forbids open-mindedness to another's opposing perspective, the examples of why a strictly literalistic Biblical approach proves so incendiary and disgusting in present-day America are endless. The hopelessly convinced Christian, Jewish, and Muslim leaders continuing the preservation of this obsolete fundamentalist principle (not without the help of their faithful mass of unquestioning followers of course) should be MORTIFIED with themselves.

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