July 17, 2006

Is Judaism going convergent too?

I can hardly contain myself.

I occasionally read Rachel's Velveteen Rabbi, whose blog has helped me consider the Judaism of my upbringing in a new light.

Recently, Rachel was part of a conference for progressive bloggers of faith... and she wrote about her experience being with other Jewish bloggers, which so closely parallels what us Quaker bloggers have recently been blogging about that I just had to tell you all to go read what Rachel had to say!

Very cool!


P.S. Rachel has put up other links to separate posts she or others wrote about her experience at that conference...

QUICK UPDATE: I just came across an earlier post by Rachel about just what is Jewish renewal?!?, which I also find intriguing, given the current topic(s) of our respective blogospheres.


Martin Kelley said...

Hi Liz,
Wow, that is neat. I suspect at least two forces at work: a kind of generational shift in openness and curiosity coupled with a blog culture that lets us befriend those radical others we wouldn't normally connect with. I do hope this spirit of cross-connections isn't simply a passing phase. In particular I worry that the open spirit of blog comraderie is a delicate balancing act, but that's another post.
Your Friend, Martin

James Riemermann said...

A significant difference I see is, self-identified convergent Friends seem to be essentially conservative in focus, at least within the context of liberal Quakerism. What I've mostly heard is calls for a return to the past, or some Friends' vision of the past, in response to what it sees as liberalism gone too far. Sticking with the liberal politics, of course, but theologically turning back the clock.

Of course, many such Friends will take issue with my characterization, but perhaps you'll see my point nonetheless.

Is this the case with the Jewish bloggers you have seen? It doesn't look that way to me.

Robin M. said...

Hey Liz, this was exciting to read. It was also interesting to me to read last year about how Emergent Church folks and some Jewish renewal folks got together to discuss being religious in the modern world and how well it apparently went.

It lseems to me like the Velveteen Rabbi (I don't usually read other Jewish blogs) is in fact taking her tradition very seriously, practicing some very traditional disciplines and avoiding some of the patriarchal traditions of her religion. She is an inspiration to me.

Liz Opp said...

Martin -- I share with you the suspicion that the "blog culture... lets us befriend those radical others we wouldn't normally connect with." It seems that when we share ideas with one another, away from the institutions we've been groomed to avoid or fear, then we are able to make our own relationships with individuals from those same institutions... which in turn opens the way for more dialogue that wll help break down stereotypes. Cool!

James -- I haven't read enough Jewish blogs to even come close to a guess at what you're asking! I really only look at Velveteen Rabbi's from time to time, though I took a brief look at the blog of someone else, Mata, who was at the Blog Con. Mata seems to point to an experience of transcendence--moving beyond barriers of belief, barriers of practice, and barriers of historical baggage--an experience for the worshipers/conference attenders of coming to a place of wordless unity and innate understanding: There was an intentionality of inclusion. We had all decided in advance that we would open the door to each other.

I feel similarly that what Convergent Friends may be lifting up is that beyond our beliefs, beyond our practice, beyond our divisions, there is a transcendent place where all are welcome. The paradox is that we might find that place by going more fully into the faith--or more fully into the understanding, the heart, or whatever--that speaks to us most clearly about All That Is Good In The World.

That's my take on it currently, anyway.

As for your characterization about Friends' "calls for a return to the past," I would say that sometimes healing occurs when we move into the future and cut a new path. Sometimes healing occurs when we reclaim something we had left behind and bring it into the present. And most of us fall into projecting our own perspective or experience onto another person's in order to help us make sense out of it [the other person's experience]. I still am wrestling with a sort of personal discipline to be able to accept where people are at when it's clear that "where they are at" is exactly what feeds and nourishes them.

Robin -- I ended up digging a bit further into the Velveteen Rabbi's archives because I was curious what she might have to say as a Jewish woman about Yeshua/Jesus. Of course when I want it, I can't find what I had found the other day, but I have emailed Rachel to ask her for a resource about Rabbi Yeshua from a Jewish perspective. Should be interesting to see what she comes up with...

Thanks for stopping by and sharing in my enthusiasm and curiosity about all this.


Albion said...

Dear Friend Liz,

I hope that this post will not hurt your feelings nor upset you in any way.

I've been thinking about this Convergant vs. Conservative (and I mean Christ Centered Friends when I use this term) Quakers thing.

And I think that seeing that you have a real background in Judaism (as did Yeshua--Jesus--and all of his disciples) that this might get you nearer to Conservative Quakerism, than to Liberal Quakerism.

For the first few years of "Christianity" there was NO "Christians", but ONLY (what we now term) "Messianic Jews".

These folks all had a background in the synagogue(s) and in the Temple.

They were all Jewish to the core.

They 'only' understood that Yeshua (or Jesus--a very poor transliteration of his Hebrew/Aramaic name, if you ask me.....) was the promised Messiah, long awaited by the Prophets and spoken of in the Tanakh (the Hebrew Bible) many times.

Now I think I understand what a leap it is for many modern day Jewish folks to think of Yeshua fulfilling the role of Messiah, and how many times that their ancestors were persecuted by (so-called) "christians", sometimes to the point of death.

This is a very hard part of "christian" history to deal with, much less to understand.

But in the beginning......it was Gentiles who were the exceptions in early "Christianity", NOT Jews.

And almost all of them (the Gentiles) had become 'God Fearer's', and a part of Judaism FIRST, before they became 'Messianic Gentiles'.

Gee Liz, it seems with all of this history behind you, it would not be such a leap for you to possibly consider Yeshua (Jesus) as The Messiah. Would it?

And I'm NOT being pushy here, just offering the wider perspective of history to help us understand a much neglected part of "Christian" history.

I've thought of all of this since I read this article on the Convergence movement in Quakerism here at your blog.

And I understand that with the possible exception of the Friends at Paullina here in Iowa, that most "Conservative Friends" (in Iowa) are not Christian.

But when I think of 'Conservative Friends' I think of Christian Friends, I hope that this offends no one.

Well, this was on my heart and it's offered here in the spirit of peace and love.

In the Light of Christ, Greying Quaker (Albion Guppy)

Liz Opp said...

Hi, Albion -

I am in-between trips I am making this summer, and I was planning on calling when things slowed down...

Thanks for your care in writing a response and taking the time to do so. Some of my thinking overlaps with yours, such as "Weren't the first Christians really Jewish, as followers of Yeshua?"

It is clear to me, based on what is being shared over the blogosphere, what I am reading, and the conversations I am having, that wrangling with the Christian nature of Quakerism is part of my journey among Friends.

So when you ask me if it would be a leap for me to consider Yeshua as the Messiah, I will tell you that I need to have more space and privacy around that part of my journey. I share what I can as I feel clear and as I am ready.

What is helpful to me, and is more in keeping with the manner of Friends, is for you to share from your own direct experience how you yourself have made that leap (if in fact you have), rather than suggesting to me that it might be easy for me to make that leap.

Does that make sense?

Apart from that: It seems as if you have made some contact with Friends from Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative), and if so, I hope that is addressing some of your spiritual hunger.

Liz, The Good Raised Up

Liz Opp said...

I see that Albion has repeated his comment on the previous post, where another Friend and I have already responded to him with a few other thoughts, different from what I offer here...


Robin M. said...

Here is another post from the Velveteen Rabbi that seems extraordinarily parallel to the convergent way that Quaker blogs function about Jewish blogs.

Here's a brief quote "So on any given day, I'm engaging in conversation with my fellow Jews truly across the religious spectrum. I think that's fairly unprecedented."

Liz Opp said...

Robin - Thanks for this link! I'll plan to update one of my related posts to include it. And yes, it DOES seem like an "extraordinary parallel" to some of how Q-blogs have been functioning.