Aloha Friday: How often do you reevaluate your beliefs?

Yesterday, I talked about re-evaluating my religious beliefs. Today, I was wondering how common this is for everyone else. Do people take a good long look at their beliefs and practices every year, every five years, or pretty much never?

My Aloha Friday question to you is: How often do you re-evaluate what your religious beliefs are?

Thanks to Kailani at An Island Life for starting this fun for Friday. Please be sure to head over to her blog to say hello and sign the MckLinky there if you are participating.

Aloha Friday by Kailani at An Island Life

Aloha #26

Separating Momentum From Your Beliefs

NOTE: I wanted to write about our Disney Trip today, but this post was bubbling beneath the surface and demanded to be written. I’ll get back to Disney last week. (Well, get back to blogging about it… I can only dream about going back to Disney World sometimes soon!)

I’ve written before about my “divided self.” Part of me is very scientific and wants to explain everything via the scientific method. Part of me is religious and wants to cling to the traditions that I adopted as I grew up. The two sides often war with each other. My scientific side arguing that there is no need for doing a particular thing due to Scientific facts A, B and C and my religious side arguing that there are valid reasons for doing things such a way due to laws X, Y and Z in the Torah.

As I mentioned in Shackles of Habit, though, the mere fact that you’ve done something a certain way for awhile can lead to you not wanting to change how you do things. Even if your reasoning behind the action becomes moot, is proven wrong, or if circumstances change, it can still be tough to alter your habits from what you have been doing.

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Why I Love Chanukah

I posted a rant a few weeks ago about how the Christmas season tends to get on my nerves by permeating everything around me, with people acting like it’s odd that I don’t celebrate it. After a few days of Chanukah, though, I’ve mellowed out a bit. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I still hate that every place in America goes Christmas-crazy. I still can’t stand the plethora of Christmas songs played with nary a Chanukah song in sight. I still bristle when my kids are asked what they want from Santa. But, I’ve decided to try to focus on the positive. I’ve decided to focus on why I like celebrating Chanukah instead of Christmas.

  1. Chanukah celebrates freedom. Where Christmas celebrates the birth of a religion’s messiah figure (or was it the arrival of a magical fat man bearing toys?), Chanukah celebrates freedom. Back in the day, a Syrian king ruled over the land of Judea. Jews living in that land were told that they could no longer worship their own religion. They couldn’t read the Torah, observe Shabbat, or anything. They had to worship the Greek gods or else. Many went along with this, but not Judah Maccabee. He organized a group that revolted and fought for their freedom of religion. They won against overwhelming odds and drove the Syrians out of Judea. Chanukah commemorates that victory.
  2. Chanukah ties in nicely with American history. America was colonized by people fleeing religious persecution. It became a separate country when the people got sick of a king imposing his ways onto them. America has valued religious freedom when other countries would rather force everyone to worship the same god. These themes are echoed in the Chanukah story. Teaching them together reinforces the message that each one sends.
  3. Chanukah has a conservation message. After the Syrians were driven out, the Jews tried to rebuild but found their temple defiled. They only had enough oil to light their menorah for one night. (It was supposed to stay lit 24/7 those days.) It would take 8 days to make more. Miraculously, the oil lasted 8 days! Yes, the conservation angle is a modern twist, but it’s not that bad of a fit. If we could make our resources stretch 8 times as long, there would be a lot less pollution/etc in the world.
  4. Chanukah is inexpensive. Ok, there’s the whole 8 days of presents thing (which isn’t *really* part of Chanukah but has been ingrained long enough that it might as well be). Of course, those don’t have to be 8 huge presents. We tend to give one or two larger presents and then round it out with smaller ones (books, clothing, etc). Other than that, though, all you really need is a menorah (which you use year after year) and candles for each night. (44. Yes, I did the math.) Alternatively, you could use an oil menorah which is more authentic and possibly less expensive. (We tend to buy our candles on clearance after Chanukah and then put them away for next year.) We don’t need to buy a tree or lighting or ornaments or plastic Santas to sit on our lawn. Oh, and you should have some dreidels but you don’t need to make them out of clay. 😉
  5. Chanukah is easy. See the previous point about tree, lighting and ornaments. All we need to do is put the menorah out, light some candles, say some blessings and call it a night. The hardest thing about Chanukah might be frying up latkes, but you could always take the lazy way out (*cough*like I did*cough*) and buy frozen.
  6. Chanukah isn’t overcommercialized. This is the flip-side to the “Christmas is everywhere, what about Chanukah” thing. While at times Chanukah might seem to be ignored, it also isn’t overcommercialized. I’m not going to see countless “RANDOM CARTOON CHARACTER Saves Chanukah” specials. I’m not going to be pressured into buying tons of useless junk because it’s got a menorah or dreidel stamped on it. I’m not going to be marketed to like crazy with the insinuation that I either spend a ton of time and money or my Chanukah is somehow less meaningful. Again, there’s the whole 8 nights of gifts thing, but that’s all.

In addition to all of this, my quest to find good Chanukah music was aided by an unlikely source. Normally, I’d be opposed to pretty much everything Orrin Hatch stands for. His political views and mine almost never agree. However, he recently recorded a Chanukah song. And this isn’t just Orrin singing “I Have A Little Dreidel”, it’s a brand new song! You can read the story behind it and hear the song itself at The Atlantic. It’s found a place in my rotation along with the Barenaked Ladies Chanukah songs and Adam Sandler’s originals.

So all in all, I’m happy to celebrate Chanukah! Now, if you’ll excuse me, this dreidel won’t spin itself.

Aloha Friday: The Santa Line

As the holiday season draws near, certain challenges arise. As I ranted talked about before in Tis The Season For Bah Humbug, we don’t celebrate Christmas. Instead, we celebrate Chanukah. This means that we don’t need to put up a Christmas tree, stuff any stockings or tell our kids that Santa is going to come and visit. However, that last item does pose a tricky dilemma. Obviously, we don’t have any personal need for our children to think that Santa Claus is real. However, if we tell them that he isn’t (especially 6 year old NHL), then that story will be repeated to other kids. Kids whose parents have said that Santa would be stopping by soon.

We don’t wish any ill will towards other families’ beliefs and practices so this one has, for now, been relatively easy to circumvent. We haven’t told them about Santa’s reality one way or another. The boys understand that Santa relates to Christmas and we don’t celebrate Christmas. However, I wonder what will happen as they get older. Will they begin to ask for a better reason why Santa won’t visit us or whether we’re on the naughty list for not celebrating Christmas? Perhaps NHL will want to know how Santa gets to every house in the world in one night. Perhaps he will have other, not so easy to answer questions. (If there’s one thing I’ve learned is that kids have a tendancy to find and ask questions that are difficult to answer.)

The more I think about the questions they might ask, the more I wonder where the line is. At what point does our wishes not to burst any bubbles clash with our wishes to raise our children to believe certain things. To expand this past Santa Claus, what happens if NHL tells a classmate in Hebrew school that men evolved from primate ancestors when that child has been taught that mankind was created by God somewhere around 10,000 years ago. That could understandably cause a sticky situation. To go past my own children, what if an athiest couple’s child tells mine that God doesn’t exist?

My Aloha Friday question is: How do you reconcile teaching your child what you would want them to believe while not offending others’ beliefs?

Thanks to Kailani at An Island Life for starting this fun for Friday. Please be sure to head over to her blog to say hello and sign the MckLinky there if you are participating.

Aloha Friday by Kailani at An Island Life

Aloha #16

Aloha Friday: Yom Kippur and Fasting

This Monday, Jews around the world will celebrate Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. As part of atoning for our sins, we’ll fast during the entire holiday. For the record, that’s 25 hours without food or water. Not even a sip of water to quench our thirst. (Children, nursing mothers, the elderly, people with medical conditions are excused from the fast. Their health is more important than the fast.) Fasting for that long isn’t as hard as it sounds though. You eat dinner the night before, skip breakfast and lunch, and then eat dinner once the fast is over.

My Aloha Friday question is: What is the longest you have fasted for and for what reason?

Thanks to Kailani at An Island Life for starting this fun for Friday. Please be sure to head over to her blog to say hello and sign the MckLinky there if you are participating.

Aloha Friday by Kailani at An Island Life

Aloha #6

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