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Old 4th December 2014, 12:02 AM
JamieDUAtheist JamieDUAtheist is offline
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Default It's just a wall

I was raised Jewish. Like Jeeeeewwwwish. Family kept kosher, synagogue for all holidays and sometimes weekly for the Sabbath. Jewish day school from ages 3 to 12 (only stopping because the school I was in more or less disbanded). Jewish summer camp when school was on holidays. By the age of 12 I was pretty sure I'd never known too many people who weren't also Jewish.

From the ages of 5 to 7 I was sent to an Orthodox school (think of this as Level 3 on a scale of 1 to 4 of being observant). My parents were Conservative (level 2, a step down) but the orthodox school was the only Jewish school in town. I was taught Hebrew half the day, as well as customs and practices of the Jewish religion. I used to go home and tell my parents they were "doing it wrong" when it came to observing our faith. "You're not supposed to shower on Shabbos" I would say, "it says so in the Torah (Jewish bible)!" They'd pat me on the head and say they didn't believe in that part, just the other parts. "Some parts we just ignore" they'd explain.

That was my first glimpse into the faults of religion. If you could just ignore some of God's commanments (such as writing God as I just did and not G-d as we were taught in school since we were commanded never to write his name), how was any of it worth a damn? God's word was supposed to be... well, God's word! Weren't we disobeying it? Heavy thoughts for a first grader.

Eventually I got on with being a productive Jewish young man. I learned Hebrew. I learned the plagues of Egypt, the miracles of Moses and the stories of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I performed my Bar Mitzvah. And at the age of 20, I visited Israel for the first time.

In case you've been living under a rock, Israel is kind of a big deal for Jews, and rightfully so. The homeland. A post Holocaust haven. If you're born Jewish, you are a citizen by right. The importance of Zionism is drilled into us as soon as we can speak. Some of us are even encouraged to move to Israel, join the army and fight for her freedom.

And no site in Israel is more important to a Jew than the Western Wall. A remnant of one of the original temples of Jerusalem (back when blood sacrifices were an integral part of Judaism), Jews from all over the world travel to Jerusalem to pray in front of the wall. The stones that make up the wall are old and have grown apart, so many stick notes of prayer into the crevices in between the stones. In fact, when other Jews hear you're going to the wall, they ask you to take their notes of prayer and put them in the spaces.

So here I was, 20 years old, maybe having had some doubts about my faith but confident a trip to Jerusalem was exactly what I needed to spark my religious juices. My family and friends were overjoyed I was going. I even got to travel there with 2 of my favorite Jews in the world: my dad and my best friend!

So a few days after landing in Israel, there we were, walking into Jerusalem's "old city" and approaching the Western Wall. It was an incredible moment. As we approached the wall, I looked to my left and saw my best friend crying. He was emotionally moved. Like me, this was his first visit to Israel, and he was visibly in awe. And to my right was my father. He had been to Israel about a dozen times before, having even led tour groups over the years. He too was tearing up.

Me? I just kept thinking "it's just a fucking wall." Not even a nice wall. It's old. The history behind it is cool (until you start thinking of all the blood shed on either side of that wall). But it's otherwise just a big ugly stone wall in a dusty old city in the middle of a desert.

It's just a wall.

And that was definitively the beginning of the end for me as a theist. It took me a few more years before I felt strong enough to articulate my thoughts. But by my mid 20s I felt comfortable in saying religion was bunk and there is no god. By 30 I felt secure enough to live the life I want to live and say those thought unapologetically out loud. By 35 I felt like religious education was a waste of time for my 3 young children, and began making efforts to raise them without religion. And now on the verge of being 40, I want to rid the world of any superstitious nonsense that adversely effects society.

It's just a fucking wall people.
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Old 4th December 2014, 12:19 AM
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Logic please Logic please is offline
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Default Re: It's just a wall

Thanks for sharing you story Jamie, I found it a great read.
*Gods* are not only a legal fiction, but a fiction in every way. Just ask the nearest hippie...
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Old 4th December 2014, 08:08 AM
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wolty wolty is offline
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Default Re: It's just a wall

Thanks Jamie.

The Nizkor Project- Logical Fallacies

Atheist: n; A person to be pitied in that he is unable to believe things for which there is no evidence, and who has thus deprived himself of a convenient means of feeling superior to others.
—Chaz Bufe, The American Heretic’s Dictionary
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Old 4th December 2014, 08:13 AM
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bruce1937 bruce1937 is offline
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Default Re: It's just a wall

Great story, I find it hard to understand why more people do not come to this realization.
The meaning of your life, is what you choose to make it.
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Old 4th December 2014, 07:01 PM
Chip Chip is offline
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Default Re: It's just a wall

Logic please said View Post
Thanks for sharing you story Jamie, I found it a great read.
Ditto Jamie
Wouldn't mind getting your take on other aspects of a typical education in your former religion if you are inclined.
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Old 4th December 2014, 07:17 PM
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Default Re: It's just a wall

Enjoyed that a lot Jamie. I look forward to more of your input around here!

Thanks... and welcome!

'[They] agreed that it was neither possible nor necessary to educate people who never questioned anything.' ― Joseph Heller, Catch-22

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Old 4th December 2014, 09:46 PM
Tosca Tosca is offline
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Default Re: It's just a wall

Great story, beautifully told.
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Old 4th December 2014, 10:11 PM
David Nicholls David Nicholls is offline
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Default Re: It's just a wall

It's just a fucking wall people.

This is the analogous epitome of atheism. It should not be forgotten or diluted by concerns not directly related to atheism.

A very well written story of coming out. Good on ya.

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Old 4th December 2014, 10:37 PM
JamieDUAtheist JamieDUAtheist is offline
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Default Re: It's just a wall

Thanks everybody. Chip, I'm happy to talk more about Jewish day school education and/or answer any specific questions you might have.
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Old 4th December 2014, 10:50 PM
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Goldenmane Goldenmane is online now
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Default Re: It's just a wall

You can't wipe with leaves from the Bible. they're too fucking glossy, not remotely absorbent.

They're printed on that stock because the Christians don't want anyone making notes in the margins. They learned their lessons back in the times of the cloisters, when the monks tasked with copying the sacred texts would draw cocks and monsters and monster cocks in what became known as marginalia, because the scriptures - all scriptures - are bull shit.
-Geoff Rogers


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