Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Monday, 21 June 2010

Small Communities

From my perusing of various blogs, both good, bad, and irrelevant, I've come to certain conclusions.  One is that a person's high school education combined with a lack of insight into their own failings is generally the biggest reason for a lapse in one's Jewish observance.  It is truly amazing how much damage an idiot rebbe in a yeshiva high school who doesn't have the answers to the big questions in life can do.  Combine that with the typical teenager attitude of "I'm the smartest person so if I've figured out something that must be the way it is" and you get trouble.
Another conclusion is that some folks can be so self-righteous as to ignore all sense and sensibility.  Let's face it, the old schoolyard advice about how to get rid of a bully in  the long term, by ignoring him until he decides to go elsewhere for attention, is still the best advice.  Getting all your friends together and giving him a pounding may provide some short-term satisfaction but eventually the bully gets even, either by getting his own gang together and picking off his opponents one at a time, or by using the system  that failed the victims to his advantage.
For example, I've been watching Jewish Philosopher successfully drive people crazy, but especially his new chosen victim, Righteous Rasha.  Even on one of her most recent posts, JP has once again shown why he is far more intelligent than many of his egotistical and easily enraged opponents.
Note the simple modus operandi that he uses.  He starts with an infuriatingly rude comment.  Two possible things could have in response.  RR could easily go into her dashboard and delete the statement.  In my opinion that would be the smartest thing to do.  Clearly JP craves, amongst other things, an audience.  Depriving him of that would be like starving someone of oxygen. 
Instead the other option, responding to his comment, occurs.  Each and every time one of RR's friends tries to insult, rebut or out-shout JP but every time he comes back with a comment even more outrageous.  This is turn sparks a paroxysm of further anger and hate from the other side which only manages to create... another comment from JP.  And on it goes.
Sitting out here on the outside it's almost painful to watch JP manipulating his audience into providing him the attention he craves.  And Heaven forbid I suggest that silence is the option for dealing with him and I get lumped in together with him!  There are no folks stupider than those who think they are smart.  JP unfortunately proves this repeatedly.
But the biggest conclusion I've come to is that I'm very luck that I live in a small community.  Unlike the large communities many bloggers dwell in, there are lots of things I don't have to deal with.  I don't have to worry about large groups of black hats deciding that people walking down the street aren't dressed tznius enough.  Our local community school isn't too far off to the right but the left.  The only Chabadnik in town in the shaliach and he's harmless enough once you remind him that only Lubavitchers actually believe all the stuff they claim and that their belief that everyone does is just something they were taught in yeshivah.  The peer pressure to keep up with the Jonesteins when it comes to simchas and chumros simply does not exist.  Finally, most of the frum folks in town have developed a health balance between the rational and irrational halves of Judaism to create an environment where Torah is practised in a sensible, healthy fashion.
Yes, it's amazing what trouble large masses of Jews can cause to themselves.  I'm glad that right now I don't have to worry about that.


Shilton HaSechel said...

A mention on your blog! I'm simply flattered!

I hope you mean "irrelevant" to your analysis here because I've rather clearly explained the whys and whats of my skepticism and they are somewhat different from the picture you paint. (I guess you figure that my explanations are inadequate/lies oh well!)

As for JP agree w/ you 100% ignore ignore ignore ignore

I just delete everything he puts on my blog (unless he has a good point which is a rarity)

Nosson Gestetner said...

I'm always on the look out for new blogs to read, but I'm quite dissapointed that nearly all Jewish blogs now are kefira this/authenticity that/criticism there.
What I don't get is that people such as the above can't just let go and live thier lives how they want to. They just can't escape moaning about their strand of society, and I just don't see the attraction. If I didn't want to be frum, I wouldn't be, and how. I wouldn't write about it, no-one cares.

Shilton HaSechel said...

Its sort of an outlet where we can vent. Better we complain on the internet than in real life ;)

>If I didn't want to be frum, I wouldn't be

That was a singularly stupid statement (sorry) it is easier said then done! Just think for one second how hard that would be to leave a lifestyle that you grew up with and that all or most of your friends and family belong to. And not only that but to be ostracized and shunned by the people you leave. Does that sound easy to you? You really think you could do that?

Also as a frum person shouldn't you want us to stay frum, even if we're insincere?

>no-one cares.

You? or no one? Someone is visiting my oh so boring blog I guess they all hate reading it because it's so boring.

By all means don't read our "kefiradick" blogs but have the courtesy to understand where we are coming from.

Nosson Gestetner said...

You'll note that all your avid readers are like minded bloggers. You have to look for validation beyond your sphere - which is sort of what I was saying in my first post.

I'd like you to be frum, but you're not, and I can't change that, and even if I could, you wouldn't want me to. I don't know why you pulled that card.

Just saying if you're going to do something wrong do it right, don't sit on the fence sniping at people when you have nothing to offer.

David said...

You really don't understand. Lots of us who are (for want of a better term) struggling with a frumkheit in which we no longer find meaning are very much ensconced in lifestyles, marriages, communities, etc. that require us to adhere to frum standards. As SHS said, it's really not easy, and we can't just shrug and walk away. Maybe blogging or posting on blogs is just a way of venting a bit. And perhaps (especially since you'd "like [us] to be frum") a bit more kindness and understanding of people who often have (rightly or wrongly) a strong sense of having been cheated would be in order here...

Mighty Garnel Ironheart said...

David, I appreciate that some folks feel trapped by "the frum lifestyle" but my sympathy is limited for the following reasons:
1) Have you ever noticed that every OTD/skeptic/kefirah blog is essentially the same? Repeated attacks on how stupid religion is. Repeated assertions on the falsity of our beliefs. Repeated insults against people who actually still believe in God. NEVER anything positive. Never anything about how wonderful their new life is based on that new life instead of "being free from religion". It might be that once upon a time people just walked out the door but nowadays they get as far as the doorway, turn around and spend the rest of their lives screaming at everyone still inside!
2) The arrogance of certainty that the skeptics/OTD's seem to have. Not that we religious are different but when the foundation of one's criticism of religion is that it's arrogant and far too certain in its beliefs, it's very hypocritical to be the exact same way in one's new (lack of) faith. Everything the ex-religious criticize us of they are also guilty of but for some reason they only think it's a crime for us.
3) The dichotomy many ex-religious create to justify their departure, to wit: You're only genuinely religious if you're a nutjob Chareii who believes the Earth is flat and that rioting on weekends is a preferred social outing. Anything else is not genuinely religious. Therefore when Modern Orthodoxy or Religious Zionism presents answers to all those difficult questions, or presents alternative points of view that don't cause a conflict with science or secular thinking, they are safely dismissed in order to justify one's "All religion is stupid" position.
4)Further to that, there are answers to the questions skeptics have. They just don't want to hear them so they keep venting without every opening their minds.
Yes, it's hard to be trapped in a lifestyle you don't believe in but part of that is of your own making, not the fault of the religion you want to leave behind.

Shilton HaSechel said...

Nosson Gerstener,

>You have to look for validation beyond your sphere

Why? Who says I'm looking for validation? I'm not trying to reach out to believers (most of the time) I just like blogging that's all. I'm sorry that my blog offends you or bores you but to be honest it was never aimed at people like you.

For some reason believers occasionally pop by and comment. Why? I guess I annoy them off or something so they feel obligated to "show me the wrong of my ways" To your credit I've never seen you at a skeptic blog so kudos!


Just stop me if I'm not included in your generalization but if I am included:

1) I don't attack religion just the parts of Judaism that I personally cannot believe. And I have said many a time that I was indeed happier when I still believed and would probably welcome going back to believing.

>2) The arrogance of certainty that the skeptics/OTD's seem to have.

To be honest you also often come off as arrogant and way to sure of everything you say.

>3) The dichotomy many ex-religious create to justify their departure

When I attack Chareidism I'm not saying that THAT is Judaism. I'm attacking it because I hate Chareidism. No dichotomy involved I agree that MO is infinitely better than Chareidism but I still believe that it has its OWN flaws.

>4)Further to that, there are answers to the questions skeptics have.

It's not that I don't want to hear them it's that I heard most of them already and unfortunately was and still am very unsatisfied. Sorry you can feed me with answers from morning till night but I can't FORCE myself to believe. I'm always open to new answers but quite frankly "the answers" you constantly post on my blog are usually nothing new to me and they just don't convince me.

>but part of that is of your own making

Is it my "own making" that I can't believe? Is there a pill I can take to make myself believe again? If there is call me up I would take it in a second.

OTD said...

> If I didn't want to be frum, I wouldn't be, and how. I wouldn't write about it, no-one cares.

Since you care so little, I'd imagine you'd spend a total of zero minutes per week perusing these blogs, even less time thinking about them, and less blogging about them. So why do I see numerous comments on this thread from Nosson Gestetner and Garnel on the topic, and endless posts from Garnel on the topic on his blog.? If the OTD phenomenon is such a non-issue, how come you aren't ignoring it?

OTD said...

>Is there a pill I can take to make myself believe again?

It's called "shut off your brain."

Shilton HaSechel said...

>It's called "shut off your brain."

Tried that but someone hit the override switch ;)

Mighty Garnel Ironheart said...

Shilton, there is obviously a problem with generalizations because of the variability of individuals but without generalizations nothing could be described or handled as a social phenomenon.
You're right, you're not calling Chareidism Judaism but many others do exactly that leading to the dichotomy I mentioned. Then tell them that Modern Orthodoxy has a different approach and they snort: That's not real Judaism!
As for forcing yourself to believe, obviously you can't but when I gave you a list of books to read, you asked for page references. Me, I read the books front to back to get as much info as possibly. Page references won't give you an all-over understanding of the material in the book and is a waste of time.

OTD said...

Garnel: >you're not calling Chareidism Judaism

Do you consider Chareidism Judaism?

Shilton HaSechel said...


You're 100% right. I need to read those books before I can argue with you about archaeology.

However don't you think you perhaps should read the other side of the argument (maybe you have) before passing judgment based on a set of books that clearly support your position?

However since my disbelief does not merely stem from archaeology, I would not become a believer overnight just from reading those books.

Maybe we both need to respect each other a little more. My recent blog post aside, I try my best to be fair to you, and I feel that you somewhat arrogantly just think of me as an insincere baby who is "just making excuses" I don't mind that you're a believer I just mind about the way you react to my skepticism.

SJ said...

Garnel, you are invited to post here-

Izgad said...

"I'm very luck that I live in a small community."


As someone who grew up in Columbus OH, I say three cheers for raising Jewish children outside of New York.

E-Man said...

I agree with Izgad 100%

OTD said...

Garnel: >As for forcing yourself to believe, obviously you can't but when I gave you a list of books to read, you asked for page references. Me, I read the books front to back to get as much info as possibly.

Garnel, before I debate you I'd like you to read every book in the central library. Page references are for babies. Me, I read the books front to back to get as much info as possibly.

Mighty Garnel Ironheart said...

Shilton, you're right. Let's try this again without all the flames.

I certainly don't think you're an insincere baby and I'm sorry if I gave you that impression. You clearly have issues with the big questions and are looking for real answers.
However, I have found that many on the skeptic side do have selfish personal reasons for being skeptical because of the benefits such a lifestyle presents. Maybe not you but certainly others.

SJ said...

I would have to question the use of the term selfish. It would seem to me that "why should I follow this stuff" is quite open to discussion.

People need information, not guilt trips.

Shilton HaSechel said...

>I have found that many on the skeptic side do have selfish personal reasons for being skeptical because of the benefits such a lifestyle presents

Most of the best skeptic bloggers were and are Orthoprax so most of them don't get to reap any supposed benefits.