Covering (hats, tichels, and hijabs, oh my!)

Published July 25, 2014 by Paige

Hello, readers!

I know it has been relatively forever since I have posted, and I am so sorry for that. However, I am wanting to start posting again! (YAY!)

Today I want to talk about covering – specifically, the covering of hair.

A year ago, I began my journey with covering my hair, since it was just after I had gotten married. However, I had to stop, because I made the ingenious decision to start covering at the same time I changed my shampoo routine. (Dandruff and head itching are TERRIBLE things when you cover your hair!)

A week ago, I started covering again. To give you some history, I’ve been playing around with covering my hair since high school, when I became close friends with my three Muslim sisters from Jordan. I had already been buying scarves (Remember that trend? Where they get tied around you for a fashion statement that looks horrible on busty women? Yea…), so I would cover if I went to their house, or sometimes just for fun, and when they left to go home to Jordan after Senior year, they donated a bunch of hijab stuff to me. Come college, I started covering periodically to practice for once I got married (in Jewish tradition, women are supposed to cover their hair once they are married. More on this later).

Anyway, a week ago I had the GRE, which, for those who don’t know, is basically the ACT for Graduate School. The night before, and the night before that, I had contemplated covering, and i prayed about it. The day of the test, i covered my hair for the first time in over a year. i was amazed at how calm it made me feel, and how focused, and how self-assured. i felt beautiful. i’ve been doing it every day since, with the exception of sometimes at work (i work in a restaurant and covering can be difficult).

There are times when I may not cover. I haven’t decided yet. Obviously, while performing military duties in uniform, I cannot cover – these next two weeks of AT (Annual Training) will be especially difficult for me, since I only recently started covering again and already it feels like a part of me.

It took me a while to come to grips with my Call to cover. i’ve felt since high school that i should cover my hair. It made me feel better and more connected with God. But it was so hard for me. I didn’t know at first about Jews covering with scarves, just wigs (yuck!), and my only other introduction was Islam (other than women in Churches covering with hats, which is no longer done). I struggled for a while, wondering if, by performing one aspect of hijab or tznius, i would have to perform all aspects of it. I struggled over what hijab and tznius meant to me. Recently, I have found my path.

Modesty, to me, has nothing to do with hem lines and inches and whether or not to wear pants and if you can mix fabrics. To me, it’s a state of being – hijab, in the Quran, is about how you portray yourself more than what you wear. That last bit is just the scarf on top of the head, if you will. 😉 So even though I am Jewish, and even though covering hair after marriage is considered an Orthodox thing, and even though doing this proclaims me as a religious, Orthodox Jew to much of the world… i have some caveats.

I don’t follow traditional, Orthodox Judaism. I’m drawn to the more spiritual side of the religion; i’m drawn to the more Sephardic or Mizradic customs; more-so, my behavior is tempered by my upbringing, which was Reform Jewish, Catholic, and Secular. Many rules that are there, while I understand the need for them at one point, I don’t consider them relevant now. Sure, I may try and stay away from pork or shrimp, but i’m not going to ignore a craving and i’m not going to give up my cheeseburgers. I consider myself Modern Orthodox – Ideologically, i’m aligned with the Orthodox sect of Judaism, but my upbringing, and my marriage, requires me to have leeway.

And that’s ok. I struggled with that for a while. I couldn’t comprehend how I could be a good Jew and still wear pants and short sleeve shirts and mini skirts if I wanted to! My Husband thinks this is part of why I stopped covering last time, and why it took me so long to start back up again – instead of attempting to follow a Calling from God, something Holy, which He wanted me to do, which is an extension and expression of the Divinity within myself, I was trying to change who I was to fit a mold that someone else created. Not God – a person. And that’s not what we are supposed to do.

So here’s what I say – If you are Jewish and you want to adhere to all of the clothing rules, and measure your skirts and sleeves and what have you… more power to you. But I just don’t think it’s necessary. You can be Holy and a Queen in jeans and a t-shirt, or at least you can to me.

To those of you who view covering as oppression… please, rethink this. The ONLY people I have heard say things like this have been people who are a) not Muslim or Orthodox Jewish and b) have never tried to understand it. Do not look at this from a Western point of view. Look at it from the view of Heaven. All Muslimahs I have heard speak about this or seen write about this, all Jewish women i’ve seen who cover their hair, even Christian women and women of other faiths who have felt the Call to cover, all of them have said it is a blessing, something they love, something they enjoy, not something they are forced to do by their parents or husbands.

Recently, Cait, the other girl who started this blog with me but has since ceased posting, told me that she had a discussion about this with her mom, that her mom felt covering was a sign of obedience to the husband, and that was wrong.

To people who feel this way… please know that I am not oppressed. My Husband did not choose this for me – He felt it was weird at first! Now He feels it’s beautiful and a part of me, because that is how I wear it. For me, this is a sign of obedience to GOD, not to my Husband. I show obedience to him in other ways, and it has nothing to do with my hair, and i’m much more lazy about fulfilling my wifely duties like doing the dishes or cleaning the house. 😉

Here is a picture of me in a partial “regal wrap” tichel, using a beautiful hijab scarf that my Muslim sisters gave me:

IMG_0751[1]

Have a good one! i’ll be posting more soon.

Paige.

Advertisements

Modern Heathenry: A Study of the Modern Worship of Norse and Germanic Gods

Published December 3, 2013 by Paige

This is a paper I wrote for my Mythology and Civilization class. Please feel free to comment and give input – I’m always looking to improve!

__________________________________________________________________________________________

In a world where so many practice Western religions such as Christianity and “New Age” or “Neo-Pagan” religions such as Wicca, it is easy to forget that other, older religions still exist. Before Christianity, the most dominant religion in Europe was the Norse and Germanic religion. This pagan[i] religion venerated such deities as Odin, Thor, Tyr, and Freyja. Today, these Gods are still worshipped, but often in new form. While some attempt to stay as close to the old ways as possible within their worship, others have strayed, either by mixing their Norse or Germanic religion with other religions such as Christianity or other forms of Paganism, worshipping on a basis of disbelief, or worshipping based off of an interest in the modern pop culture references to the Norse Gods.

Norse and Germanic religion dominated the northern part of Europe in the days before Christianity reached the area. From Germany to Sweden and further (due to Viking exploration), the same Gods were venerated, thanked, and worshipped. Uppsala, Sweden, was one of the largest and most important religious centers for this religion. Most of the knowledge about the Temple at Uppsala comes from an 11th century Christian author named Adam of Bremen. He writes:

In this temple, entirely decked out in gold, the people worship the statues of three gods in such wise that the mightiest of them, Thor, occupies a throne in the middle of the chamber; Odin and Freyr have places on either side. The significance of these gods is as follows: Thor, they say, presides over the air, which governs the thunder and lightning, the winds and rains, fair weather crops. The other, Odin-that is, the Furious-carries on war and imparts to man strength against his enemies. The third is Freyr, who bestows peace and pleasure on mortals. His likeness, too, they fashion with an immense phallus. But Odin they chisel armed, as our people are wont to represent Mars. Thor with his scepter apparently resembles Jove. The people also worship heroes made gods, whom they endow with immortality because of their remarkable exploits, as one reads in the Vita of Saint Ansgar they did in the case of King Eric.

A golden chain goes round the temple. It hangs over the gable of the building and sends its glitter far off to those who approach, because the shrine stands on level ground with mountains all about it like a theater solemnize in Uppsala, at nine-year intervals, a general feast of all the provinces of Sweden. From attendance at this festival no one is exempted.

The sacrifice is of this nature: of every living thing that is male, they offer nine heads, with the blood of which it is customary to placate gods of this sort. The bodies they hang in the sacred grove that adjoins the temple. Mow [sic] this grove is so sacred in the eyes of the heathen that each and every tree in it is believed divine because of the death or putrefaction of the victims. Even dogs and horses hang there with men. A Christian seventy-two years old told me that he had seen their bodies suspended promiscuously. Furthermore, the incantations customarily chanted in the ritual of a sacrifice of this kind are manifold and unseemly; therefore, it is better to keep silence about them.[ii]

            (qtd. in Jorybu)

            As shown above, much of what was written about the Norse religion by Christians was written in bias, often using words with excessive imagery in order to show the gruesomeness and barbarism that was perceived by the Christian missionaries there. Today, however, more and more people are moving toward honoring the old Gods. In Sweden today, children are taught the old stories in school from a young age (Jönsson). In comics and movies, Thor, Loki, and others from Norse mythology play prominent roles. More and more are turning toward the Old Religion in some way or another.

One way people are doing this is by mixing Norse Religion with other religions. In a survey participated in by 23 people, six people chose the “other” category when asked how they describe their religion mixed Norse Gods with Gods from other religions. One of those six, Finzie[iii], identified himself essentially as a Norse Christian, and stated that his family has worshipped this way as far back as they can trace their heritage. When asked about this, he replied, “as far as Christianity Nordic faith evolved and melded into Christianity, we are taught lessons of the white good [sic] which you would know as Jesus. I believe him to be real. so yes. but with other deities as well,” (Finzie). When asked how he worships, Finzie stated that he follows the Nine Noble Virtues[iv], prays, hunts his own food and dedicates part of the kill to the Gods, raises his horn when he drinks, and studies runes. He explains that they (he and his family) do not practice animal sacrifice; however, they do hunt for their own meat instead of going to the grocery store or butcher, allowing them to dedicate part of the kill to the Gods[v]. They also occasionally put out an extra plate in case a traveler comes by in need of food. He says he does not believe that the Gods need anything from them, and he doubts that what he and his family do will cause the Gods to grant them any favor, but it acts as a sort of attention getter so that the Gods recognize his family’s deeds on Earth. The other five mentioned earlier identified as “Eclectic Pagan,” polytheist, or pagan. All but one, Keith (whose beliefs will be looked at in detail in the following section), said that, in addition to worshipping Norse Gods, they worshipped or followed Gods from other pantheons as well, or at least were open to doing so. One person, M, who was unable to take the survey but was willing to allow information from a personal interview, primarily worships the Egyptian Goddess Bastet. However, lately, she’s been feeling like the Norse God, Loki, has been calling to her more, stating that, “I’ve been drawn to him since childhood but he didn’t start appearing tangibly until recently,” (M). Such mixtures of pantheon are, from my experience, relatively common within the pagan community. Many believe, like one survey respondent, that “the gods are real, individual beings, as opposed to the idea that they are all aspects of a single divinity,” (CelticCoyote). As such, it is possible to draw from many pantheons because they all fit within the same belief system.

Interestingly enough, some people also admitted to worshipping on a basis of disbelief. One participant in the survey, Sceadugenga, admitted to being an atheist. Due to his belief in a human’s ability to have a non-human soul, and identifying as such, he stated that, “Believe it or not, I’m an atheist. I don’t believe in gods as a human. As a lupine[vi], the concept of ‘god’ is more complex and less accurate than in the ways humans use the term. My connection to Fenris is closer to a natural affinity than a form of worship,” (Sceadugenga). Sceadugenga identifies as primal, or a person who identifies with the animal portion of himself. The animal he most closely identifies with is a wolf. “I do have a spirit wolf…” Sceadugenga explains, “Shadow, my wolf… in the most scientific terms, is a visualized representation of the primal parts of my soul, and gives me a construct to dialogue with the opposed lupine and human elements in my consciousness. But I consider Shadow a part of me, and I am a part of the wolf pack in the abstract.” He considers himself to be in a pack with all other lupines, and views Fenris, or Fenrir, the great Wolf attested to in the Prose Edda by Snori Sturluson, as the “packmaster,” or leader of the lupines. Another name he gives for the packmaster is the ur-wolf.

The other person in the survey who based his worship on non-belief identified as pagan, but continued on to explain that he “considers the gods and goddesses to be keys that unlock ‘archetypes’ … found in the mind and not only keys that unlock archetypes but also some of them can unlock ancestral personality types,” (Keith). His information on archetypes and ancestral personality types is based on Jungian theory of archetypes and collective unconscious, respectively. Continuing on in his explanation, Keith stated, “I believe we are the gods and goddesses and the gods and goddesses of pagan mythology exist inside us as deep psychological forces we can embody. I also believe in worshipping living human beings as part of my paganism, in that sense I am a polytheist because I see humans as gods and goddesses. Also I worship nature, the sun and the moon and the stars. I also venerate animals. I worship rocks. I believe the material universe is sacred and has always existed.”

Not everyone, however, worships Norse Gods due to heritage, calling, or belief in gods as archetypes of human personality. The prevalence of Norse imagery within media today has brought many people into the world of Norse religion, many considering themselves Lokean due to following the Norse God Loki. One survey respondent admitted, “They [Loki and Tyr] both announced themselves to me via games and sci-fi. Their names came up repeatedly and resonated with me in an odd way that drove me to learn about the meaning of the names,” (ChosaDei)[vii]. Belle, a Norse Heathen who mainly works with Odin and Frigga, worries about this trend: “I see a lot of people, since the Marvel movies came out, saying, ‘Oh, yea, I totally worship Loki! (giggle!) He’s so hot!’ or I see, a lot, people claiming to be Norse Heathens who say they worship Loki and Thor because they are brothers, but they aren’t, that’s just in the comics. I respect Comic!Verse, I really do, but I think it should be remembered as a fictional creation that is in no way an indication of the actual faith system or myths. It says ‘an adaptation’ and ‘based off of’ for a reason,” (Belle). The issue is that many people, due to the Marvel comics and the movies, are coming into Norse religion believing all of the information from the movies, or are purely joining the religion because they think it is “cool,” an extension of their love for the comic characters. So while the comics and movies are certainly normalizing and giving more exposure to the Old Religions, they are, at times, doing them a disservice by putting out “non-cannon” information, or information that is not true to the actual stories.

In contrast to those who have mixed their Norse religion with other beliefs, base their beliefs on an essential lack of belief, or are part of the trend of those following a Marvel-ized idea of the Norse Gods, there are those who attempt to follow the Norse religion in a way that is as close as possible to what we know of it before Christianity. Belle is one of those people. Belle, as stated before, mainly works with Odin and Frigga; however, she venerates all of the Norse Gods. Before moving states for graduate school, Belle worked with her local wolf shelter in order to protect the wolves there, which are symbols of Odin and allow her to feel close to him. When asked about how she was called to her patron deity, Belle replied, “Actually, Odin called me to me first during a tarot reading. I don’t remember how old I was, but I remember being really frightened by him at first. After that, everything fell into place. Everything about the faith fit everything I had been looking for since I was a small child,” (Belle). Now, she worships through ritual, altar studies, pagan study (which is like Bible study), and offerings to her Gods. She says she “lives her worship,” meaning that by simply being alive, she is worshipping because she constantly thinks about and thanks her Gods. When asked about Odin further, Belle explained her interaction with him, saying that while she likes Odin because he values wisdom and learning, working with him is often difficult because he also values strength in all things. Belle explained that there were times where she really needed his help, but because she was showing weakness by being upset about the situation, Odin left her to fend for herself. Once she succeeded, Odin would return, but only once she had proven her strength. This situation has led to some difficult situations for Belle. Once, she called upon Loki for help when she and her boyfriend were having financial difficulties. While she got a job, and her financial woes were mostly abated, calling upon the Trickster God of Norse religion had its problems. Money went missing, car keys were lost, and, most importantly, Odin left her for a while until Belle realized her mistake. Since then, she has not had many issues outside of the norm with Odin or her other deities (Belle).

Belle’s boyfriend, Beast, worships only one deity – Hel. He says, “I did not find her, she found me. I actually mistook her for Hades to begin with,” (Beast). Beast explains that he finds Hel to be very sarcastic and straight to the point – characteristics he himself embodies. When asked how he worships, he says he mostly does so through Tarot cards, a method which does deviate from the “normal” form of Norse worship, and guided meditation. However, Beast is more relaxed in his worship than Belle, one might say. Whereas Belle makes sure to thank her Gods every day and does pagan study once a week, Beast worships when the mood strikes him and often does no alter work at all.

Contrastingly, Raven Kaldera, another follower of Hel, or Hela (as he calls her), is much more active. Author of “Pathwalker’s Guide to the Nine Worlds,” as well as many other books on the subject of Norse religion, Kaldera speaks of Hela, stating, “Hela came to me when I was very young, and was a constant presence all throughout my early life. I did not know who She was, although I was aware that She was a Death Goddess. Eventually I discovered who had chosen me. She then began introducing me to her family and friends,” (Kaldera). He explains that he “belongs” to Hel, but that he works with many other Norse Gods as well. He has online shrines for them, has physical alters and prays to them, has facilitated gatherings and rituals for them, does favors/errands, and gives offerings. Of Hel, he says, “For my Boss, Hela, I pretty much do what She tells me,” (Kaldera). Kaldera considers himself Northern Tradition Pagan (NT), a newer denomination within the Norse tradition. However, he also called it Norse Pagan, a term used by many who participated in the survey in conjunction with the term Heathen. Kaldera, via northernpaganism.org, contrasts NT with Heathenism and defines Heathenism as “a generally accepted umbrella term for a number of religious reconstructionist groups (including Asatru, Forn Sedh, Vanatru, Heithnir, etc.) that base their religion on the early-medieval Iron Age writings about the Gods and myths of Norse, Germanic, and Anglo-Saxon peoples.” In contrast, he states that NT is a reconstructionist-derived practice, meaning that it is not completely Reconstructionist and begins with the lore (which is where the Kaldera says Reconstructionist practice stops) and continues onward, adding things through inspiration as well. The website also notes that those who follow the NT path are allowed to work with Gods from other pantheons within their private practice and that the NT groups do not encourage theological separatism (Northern-Tradition Paganism). Elsewhere on the website are his shrines, online dedications to the various Norse deities, neatly separated into Æsir, Vanir, and Rökkr, as well as “other” and “Russian” shrines. Each God or Goddess has his or her own page with pictures and information of the particular deity in question. For instance, the shrine for Hel gives a brief bit of information about her with links to more specific information, such as who she is, her history, her gifts, and her rules. In this way, Kaldera honors all of the Gods within his pantheon.

Another survey respondent, John, is also rather traditional with worship, but with a slight twist. He considers himself neo-Asatru, meaning he is follows a newer path and works with the Gods of the Æsir, and found his Gods through study after he left the Christian faith. John worships Tyr, Thor, Odin, and Loki. He says that what he does for worship is he tries to make offerings; when he has to deal with “stupid people” at his work, he asks Tyr to let him see truth, Odin to give him his strength, and for Loki to play tricks on them; he also has runes on his body, weapon, bulletproof vest, and other gear, stylizing him as a modern warrior, which is fitting given the Gods he worships.

In short, there are many different ways to worship. As Kaldera says when explaining the Northern Tradition:

It’s always hard when you have two religions who worship the same God(s), but do it in different ways with different theology. Just ask the Christians. People have to work to get over their issues and leave each other alone. Being able to say, “It’s not my way, but it’s a way,” is sometimes a difficult place for people to come to, especially when they are already members of a small fringe sect and have insecurities about that.

Still, I’d make the (perhaps ambiguous) comment that merely screaming at someone that they’re doing things in a wrong and evil way never (as in never, in the history of the world!) made the recipient of that screaming change. At best, it made them dismiss the message because of the attitude. There’s also that for all their complaining, orthodox religious organizations have often found alternative groups to be a good place to dispose of their heretics: “Look, clearly you don’t belong here; why don’t you try going over there and getting out of our hair?”

And, finally, all things pass and that includes ideological conflicts. We prefer to be frith-makers rather than instigators of conflict. Neo-Paganism has always been a demographic with underlying values of tolerance, and we are carrying on that tradition.

(Northern-Tradition Paganism).

While it may be difficult to deal with differences, sometimes it is best to concede that there is no real “right way” when it comes to religion. While some prefer to try and stay as close as possible to the original religion, others find it necessary to adapt, whether due to synthesis of the religion into other religions such as Christianity, due to personal beliefs or difficulties, or more. And while it is certainly disagreeable that some take clearly fictional information about Gods and apply it to a religion, or join a religion as an extension of comic fandom, one must admit that no press is truly bad press, as the comics and movies bring Norse mythology and religion into the realm of the “normal” within society, helping those who due truly practice and believe this religion to feel less out of place and objectionable. And who knows, perhaps one day, those giggling girls who say they worship Loki because he’s “so hot” will figure out that they truly do want to worship Loki, but not because of his portrayal in a fictional movie, but because of his cunning and how many of his followers portray him as caring for them in many ways. If that happens, that is certainly progress.


[i] “Pagan” is a term used for non-Abrahamic religions.

[ii] Germanic names changed to Norse equivalents by author of article so that they would be more readily understood by the reader.

[iii] For the protection of those who took my survey online, many have elected to provide pseudonyms.

[iv] Courage, Truthfulness, Honor, Fidelity, Self-Discipline, Hospitality, Industriousness, Self-Reliance, and Steadfastness (Finzie).

[v] This could be considered a Blót. Defined by Heathen_Master, a Blót is “a ritual that involves a sacrifice to the Gods. Something I’ve hunted, food, drink, etc.,” (Heathen_Master).

[vi] Sceadugenga identifies as a primal, or “a human who identifies with an animal in a deeply spiritual, psychological, or emotional way, to such an extent that this animal identification forms the strongest determining factor in that individuals relationships with others and/or with self.” His definition of lupine is just “of or relating to wolves” and can be understood as a primal who identifies with wolves.

[vii] Please note that in no way am I connecting ChosaDei to the trend of people “worshipping” or “following” Norse Gods off of false information within the Marvel Universe.

Works Cited

Acacophony. Message to the author. 14 Nov. 2013. E-mail.

Beast. Message to the author. 2 Dec. 2013. E-mail.

Belle. Message to the author. 14 Nov. 2013. E-mail.

Belle. Personal interview. 1 Dec. 2013.

CamEubanks. Survey. Message to the author. 2 Dec. 2013. E-mail.

CelticCoyote. Survey. Message to the author. 23 Nov. 2013. E-mail.

ChosaDei. Survey. Message to the author. 23 Nov. 2013. E-mail.

Dee. Survey. Message to the author. 23 Nov. 2013. E-mail.

Dragonraine, Rhiannon. Survey. Message to the author. 23 Nov. 2013. E-mail.

Finzie. Survey. Message to the author. 23 Nov. 2013. E-mail.

Hawkes, Zaquel Lucien. Survey. Message to the author. 26 Nov. 2013. E-mail.

Heathen_Master. Survey. Message to the author. 23 Nov. 2013. E-mail.

InMidnightClad. Your Paper/Survey. Message to the author. 24 Nov. 2013. E-mail.

Insanegerman. Message to the author. 15 Nov. 2013. E-mail.

Jönsson, Filip. Personal Interview. 10 Nov. 2013.

John. Survey. Message to the author. 22 Nov. 2013. E-mail.

Jorybu. “Vikings: Gamla Uppsala.” Daily Kos. Daily Kos., 22 Oct. 2013. Web. 1 Dec. 2013.

Kaldera, Raven. “Northern-Tradition Paganism & Heathenry.” Northern Tradition Paganism. n.p., n.d. Web. 1 Dec. 2013.

Kaldera, Raven. Norse Gods Survey. Message to the author. 22 Nov. 2013. E-mail.

Kaldera, Raven. Northern Tradition Paganism. n.p., 2010. Web. 1 Dec. 2013.

Keith. Survey. Message to the author. 23 Nov. 2013. E-mail.

Krasskova, Galina. Norse Deity Survey. Message to the author. 29 Nov. 2013. E-mail.

M. Personal Interview. 2 Dec. 2013.

Matti. Survey. Message to the author. 26 Nov. 2013. E-mail.

n.p., n.d. Web. 1 Dec. 2013.

Mondurhw, Phynix. Re: Survey. Message to the author. 23 Nov. 2013. E-mail.

Punke, Jacob. Survey. Message to the author. 22 Nov. 2013. E-mail.

Ross. Survey. Message to the author. 25 Nov. 2013. E-mail.

Russell, Wesley. Survey. Message to the author. 23 Nov. 2013. E-mail.

Sceadugenga. Norse Stuff. Message to the author. 22 Nov. 2013. E-mail.

X. Survey. Message to the author. 2 Dec. 2013. E-mail.

Xephix. Survey. Message to the author. 24 Nov. 2013. E-mail.

Just some thoughts on Judaism.

Published May 31, 2013 by Paige

So, i’ve been thinking about Graduate school lately… Scary, right? Well, my cousin is studying to be a Rabbi over at Hebrew Union College (HUC) and suggested i check it out.

They have some pretty freaking sweet programs. (All of which require me to know Hebrew. Which, of course, i don’t… *going to talk to my Adviser about that one… [hint hint if you’re reading this blog!]*)

Anyways. This got me back on my “Maybe i should try and be a *good* Jew…” thoughts. Sometimes i have those. It leads to “more modest” dressing, attempts at hair covering, attempts at kosher, and the like.

Then i remember my mom was Reform.

(Excuse me while i go check on my possibly-non-Kosher dinner… It’s disputed whether we’re allowed to mix chicken and dairy. i say we are. Edict says, “Don’t boil a cow in its mother’s milk,” right?..)

So, as you may well know (or you may not… in which case, you shall now be informed!), Judaism is becoming increasingly more progressive. In some ways. In some ways, it’s regressive, but i’ll get there. Point is, social-conservative-wise, it’s progressing, and that’s, well, progress.

Did you know that all branches of Judaism other than Orthodox say that same-sex marriage is ok, and that the government should allow it? They each either encourage their Rabbis to perform same-sex marriages, or give them the choice on their own. Here’s the nifty little chart here: nifty little chart!

On top of that, many branches allow inter-faith marriage. Now, not all will allow those in interfaith marriages to become Rabbis, but hey, progress is progress! (Personally, i’m ok with interfaith marriages… my Husband is Christian! We’re all Children of the same God, right? 🙂 But i’ll write about that another time…)

Reform and other more liberal branches acknowledge that Kosher is due to health concerns of the time. Modesty laws are being re-thought as the times have changed and, i’m sorry, but knees and elbows just aren’t considered sexy anymore! Not all women cover their hair once married, and those who do just might wear a kippah (traditionally male headcovering) instead of a scarf or wig! Heck, i’ve even seen women wear hats or just wear a headband!

Things are changing. They are changing for the better. Sure, some things should be stuck to. But i also realize that not all edicts in Judaism came from God. They came from Rabbis. Who, i’m sorry, are fallible. Therefore, i feel like the Torah and readings on the Prophets and other works that came from God should be what defines this religion that i am, currently, a part of.

Oh, did i tell you that last year i had an Orthodox Rabbi offer to teach me about Kabbalah? Something reserved for males over forty? No? Well i did. i’m thinking i’ll hold off on that until later in my education. i still need to learn Hebrew and become a Bat Mitzvah and all!

Now, earlier, i mentioned regression instead of progression. No, i’m not talking about those ultra-Orthodox males in Israel who will attack women who they think are showing too much skin or dressing too sexily (even if they are dressed covering elbows, knees, and collarbones, and wearing skirts!), i’m talking about the movement in Israel to re-instate polygamy.

“Paige, why are you so interested in this? You already did a post on polygamy!”

Ah, this is true. But it was mostly a Christian perspective and i have since found more information. Technically, that post was written MONTHS ago. i just reposted it from my other blog (which i have since deleted. i want a clean start. More on that in a minute.).

Plus. It interests me. 😉
Now, i don’t know too much about this movement. i know that it was started by a man who is married, whose wife has given consent for him to marry another woman as well, if the law allows. Currently, Yemenite Jews who move to Israel and already have more than one wife are allowed to keep all of their wives. However, once in Israel, they cannot marry any more. The case where a Jew wanted to marry another because his wife was unable to have children and consented to another wife was even turned down (they were Israeli Jews).

Some background on the ban:

Judaism never forbid plural marriages. Abraham had two wives, Jacob had two wives, David had 7 or 8, Solomon had 200 wives and 200 concubines. The rules were you should only marry as many as you could handle – meaning, you couldn’t change the living situation of the first wife, and any subsequent wives got the same amount of stuff she did. Same amount of allowance, same amount of living space, same amount of sex. There was even a rule saying you weren’t allowed to love the children of one wife more than the children of another. Fair’s fair. Later, the rule changed to 4 wives at the most (the same amount allowed in Islam). However, in the 1st or 2nd century, a Rabbi in Germany (Rabbeinu Gershom) proclaimed that polygamy was wrong and banned it for all Ashkenazi (re: European) Jews. Some say the ban was “until the end of the fifth millennium (according to the Jewish calender),” while others say it was to last 1000 years. The only way you could get around it was if your wife was incapacitated (re: in a coma, or in a mental state that meant she was unable to procure a get, or divorce) and get the signatures of 100 rabbis in three countries. That ban ended either in 1240 CE or in 1987 (according to this website). Oh, and the ban was never in place for Sephardic or Yemenite Jews. So they still had plural marriages, especially in cases of infertility and leverite marriages (marrying your deceased brother’s wife, which is compulsory in Judaism).

So, pretty much, there’s no ban now. However, the law still remains. Now, people think that poly is terrible. They think that the men are coercing their wives into it. However, according to the people pushing this movement, it’s the women who are pushing for their men to marry more women! The movement is also saying that they think it will help women, as there are so many single women in Israel who are unable to fulfill duties as a wife and mother currently. Here’s the article from the Jerusalem Post from about a year ago. Oh, and side note… those who say that poly is bad because Adam only had one wife? In Jewish tradition, he had two. First, he had Lilith, who fled the Garden (i don’t think they ever really divorced because the Angels kept telling her to go back to Eden). Then, he was given Eve because Lilith wouldn’t come back/refused to be on bottom during sex/refused to submit to him/raped him when she visited one night. So… unless he divorced Lilith, which i don’t think he did (i haven’t read the literature on it, though!), he had two wives at once. Also, i feel like by condemning polygamy and saying it is bad, people are saying that Abraham, Jacob, David, Solomon, and all of the rest of the people in the Bible who are looked up to as important and holy are wrong. That’s obviously not true! God blessed their marriages. (It should be noted that David and Solomon, being Kings, were seen as being allowed special privileges of extra wives [more than four] due to being Kings.)

On top of that, before Israel was fighting for polygamy, people were fighting to re-institute the status of concubines. Referring to my previous post, being a concubine was like being a wife. Some websites state that this is not true, but that is not the case. Here is the wiki-article on it. Rabbi Yaakov Emden said that a pilegesh agreement required both a kiddushin[wedding ceremony] to start and a get [divorce] to absolve. Some also say that the children of this marriage were not heirs. However, if this is true, then why would Abraham been given Hagar by Sarah when Sarah was unable to produce children? Sarah wanted Abraham to be able to produce an heir. The union between Abraham and Hagar produced Ishmael, and then Abraham and Sarah had a child – Isaac. Jews and Christians trace their line through Isaac. However, the children of both a pilegesh and a wife seem to be of equal standing… For while Sarah was able to request and receive the banishment of Hagar and Ishmael, Ishmael was given his own nation by God, that of Islam. In any case, the wife has to first consent to a pilegesh, just as the wife must consent to other wives, or else it would be adultery on the part of the husband. However, the movement is more to allow non-married couples to have sex, making it something seen as temporary, when, in reality, the pilegesh is considered just as life-long as being a wife and was usually done when the girl wasn’t Jewish, or was from Canaan, or was unable to marry the man for some reason, as far as i can tell.

Phew! i went from pretty chill to pretty serious in about .2 seconds there. Sorry! (Just a moment while i eat. i’ve been ignoring my dinner to write this… bad idea!)

The point of this was mainly to examine things i thought were cool about Judaism, both today and in the past. Of course, there are some things i am not sure about yet. There are some rules i don’t always agree with. There are things i believe that may not fit the framework of the religion i currently am in, like the use of Tarot cards (interestingly, here are a couple sources that say Tarot is perfectly acceptable for the same reason i use it – in that i use it to communicate with God [please read the second source with caution… i’ve not read the book, so i don’t know which review is more accurate]. They also say that Tarot is inherently Jewish. i’m not sure about that one, and would have to look into it. Regardless, i don’t use a “standard” Tarot deck. Most people start with a “standard” deck, consisting of Major and Minor Arcana [the Major Arcana has 22 cards. There are 22 letters in the Hebrew Alef-Bet, leading to the Judaism connection], and then, if they wish, move on to non-standard decks with their own cards that may not connect to the standard ones. i’ve never had a standard deck and don’t know if i ever will. Remind me to do a separate post on Tarot, ok?), or spells (i see them as prayer – for all i do is ask God to help me do something, which is the same thing i do when praying. There’s just more bells and whistles with spells), or any number of more “witchy” or “esoteric” things. Though, for all i know, as i delve further into Kabbalah, perhaps i’ll realize that everything i believe is really just in Judaism. And how awesome would that be? 🙂
Paige. ❤

Westboro Baptist Church

Published May 12, 2013 by Paige

Alright. I know we haven’t posted in a while, but please understand it is about to be finals week for both of us. As soon as summer comes, we’re planning on a joint post, and i think we both have other posts plan for you.

Now, to address the subject matter at hand: Westboro Baptist Church.

“But, Paige! Why would you write about such a terrible thing?!” 

Well, dear reader, because they claim to be a church. They claim to be servants of the Lord.

And i think i just might know more about Jesus than they do.

See I was watching a documentary on Westboro Baptist Church. It’s on Netflix, and it’s called Fall From Grace. Here’s the link: http://movies.netflix.com/WiMovie/Fall_from_Grace/70080238?trkid=7120105

Watching this movie got me wondering… What would these people, and the children, say when faced with facts from the Bible that negate their teachings?

What would they do, say, if i brought up Matthew 22:36-40? If i asked them, “Do you know what Jesus said the most important commandment was?” Would they know the answer? What would they do if faced with the fact that to obey Jesus, to obey GOD, they must LOVE their homosexual neighbors instead of hate them? Would they spit in my face? Call me a liar? Or would they break out their Bibles and go, ‘Huh. Grandpa Phelps never taught us that verse…”

What about the part in the Bible where it says Jesus was supposed to die? That he had to die for prophesy to be fulfilled and to give salvation to all? Verses to look at would be Matthew 20:28, Luke 24:26-27, 46, Acts 4:28… When confronted with these things, when confronted with passages where Jesus tells his own DISCIPLES that he must go suffer things and die, will they still spew hate about Jews, saying we killed Jesus and have not repented, and are therefore doomed? Or will they accept that this must have happened, that it had to have happened for many to be saved, that Jesus was sent to Earth to die; It was always God’s plan that His one and only son should die for the sake of others.

I guess i just don’t understand this place. They call it a church… The only people in the church are family members. Fine, whatever. They claim to be Baptist. I have known several Baptist preachers that preach a lot of hate and hell and damnation. Whatever. But to preach it for a whole country? For the entire world? This is new and unheard of. To have children, younger than 8 years old even, saying words like “fags”, “bastards”, and “b-words”, is ridiculous and i can’t see how that is being a good, Christian parent. In the Old Testament,  we are told not to say bad things about people. In Judaism, we say do not gossip about them, do not lie about them. As Chosen People we are told to keep ourselves as Princes and Princesses… These go hand-in-hand. Should a Prince or Princess say bad things about people or call them names? No. But apparently this teaching, this logic, is not taught in this so-called “church”…

They keep such rules as not cutting ones’ hair, but they ignore loving of neighbors. They have women cover their hair in church and submit to their husbands, but allow them to wear pants and short skirts and other things that many fundamentalist groups would consider either “whore clothing” or “men’s clothing”.

They even say Obama is the Anti-Christ due to some convoluted math equating his name to 666, or the number of the beast. Their website says he’s Muslim (he is, in fact, Christian).

Well, if Obama is the Anti-Christ…

So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.

And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication:

And upon her forehead was a name written, Mystery, Babylon The Great, The Mother Of Harlots And Abominations Of The Earth.

And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.

Revelation 17:3-6

If Obama is the Anti-Christ, then, Westboro Baptist Church is the Whore of Babylon, that woman who is the false prophet who kills so many and condemns others in the eyes of the Lord. (Isn’t it funny how grammar makes the Church a female?..)

See how quickly this can escalate?..

Paige.

Is Polygamy a Sin?

Published April 27, 2013 by Paige

This post is partially cross-posted from my other blog. This was written a while ago, and a few edits have been made.

This post focuses on the Christian view of Polygamy.

Is polygamy a sin?

Short answer? Yes and no.

“But Paige, how can the answer be both yes and no?”  you ask?

Easy.

Polygamy (multiple marriages) can be further broken into two groups:

Polygyny – that is, multiple wives

and

Polyandry – that is, multiple husbands.

While the Bible expressly forbids polyandry (see Leviticus 20:10, Deuteronomy 22:22, and Romans 7:3), it never forbids the practice of polygyny. There’s a great article on blogspot about this which goes into detail about scripture and how it does not forbid that man have many wives. In fact, if we look at the Old Testament, we see all over the board men having multiple wives and many concubines (you were limited in the amount of wives, but you could have as many concubines as you wanted, which had the same rights as wives, pretty much). This was accepted as a part of the culture and even the religion. Even now, Israel is opening back up to the idea of men having concubines, or women who wish to hold that class (pretty much, a consensual slave, but not like within the BDSM or D/s or M/s subculture, because you can’t get married to the guy. You just get protective rights from him).

But i’m digressing. Point is, Old Testament says you can have multiple wives.

The New Testament is more tricky. It never expressly forbids having more than one wife. The only case here more than one wife is forbidden seems to be in the case of a ruler. The above blog explains this:

32 But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord:

33 But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife.

1 Corinthians 7:32-33

A man only has so much time and energy. A polygamist with the responsibility of providing for the well-being of many wives probably would not have enough time and energy left over to provide for the well-being of the parishioners of a congregation. Being a bishop, deacon or elder requires a huge investment of time and energy, as does being a polygamist. Therefore, it would probably be counter-productive for a polygamist to have a high position of leadership in the church.

Tom Gruber, blogspot

A man who has more than one wife has to worry about the well-being (physical, emotional, mental, sexual) of every wife equally. The rule for taking on an extra wife is that the Husband must be able to provide for each wife as much as the first wife was prior to the second marriage. In other words, the Husband can’t stop his one date night and two nights of sex with his first wife (or make them lessened) in order to provide equal time with the second and third wives. He has to find a way to give them all the same things – the same amount of space, the same amount of allowance, the same amount of sex, etc. This is just too much work on top of taking care of all of the people in a Church! So, leaders can only have one wife. 😉

Mr. Gruber over at blogspot also said that perhaps, how people are “like Christ” in marriage is that, if they have a polygynist marriage, the Church (Jesus’ bride) can be seen as made up of many people. However, they are harmonious. Thus, if the wives in the polygynist marriage are harmonious and all work towards pleasing their Husband, just as the Husbands (who comprise the Church) work to please God, then their relationship is seen as the same as the relationship between Christ and his bride, the Church.

Now, how does one deal with this in a culture where people date before getting married? How do to deal with a culture where people will co-habitate and have a sexual relationship without ever being married, and even stay that way and raise children together while not married? Making us deal with polyAMORY (multiple loves) instead of polyGAMY (multiple marriages)?

Some would say that it doesn’t matter.

But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works,

Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.

Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.

Romans 4:5-8 (KJV)

In other words, righteousness is not shown through works, but through faith. Why is this? Because no one is perfect, and people make mistakes. But if you sin, knowing it is wrong? Well, some would say you just have to ask forgiveness.

So how does this apply to the real world?

A world where people date and co-habitate and have sex without caring what the Bible has to say about it?

Pretty much, “It’s wrong, but God knows you are going to be tempted, so as long as you have true faith, then you are still saved.”

Where I struggle with this is, how do we know what true faith is? Some would say it would be to try and follow the letter of the law as closely as possible… however, that is a decidedly Jewish view.

What, then is the Christian view (other than that sinning doesn’t matter as long as you have faith?)?

36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?

37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

38 This is the first and great commandment.

39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Matthew 22:36-40 (KJV)

According to Jesus, the greatest commandment is to love God absolutely and completely. The second is to love your neighbor as you love yourself. Even without any other commandment, you can be righteous by following these two commandments.

Through faith, one is righteous. Loving ones neighbor also produces righteousness.

So even if one makes mistakes, even if one sins, as long as they love God completely and loves and respects those around them, they can go to Heaven.

So, in other words, both polygamy and polyamory are fine. Yes, polyandry and polyamory can technically be considered sins within the Abrahamic religions. However, if looked at from a Christian standpoint, we are absolved from all sins as long as we have faith. Furthermore, others should be supportive and loving even if they do not approve of the poly lifestyle because Jesus said that the second greatest commandment, one that all other commandments hang on as well as the first greatest, is “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”

Thanks for reading!

Paige.